I’ve fallen a bit behind on posting, but I’ve got a new crop of articles. These continue to build the case against expanding this 1:1 device rollout. They also make me wonder, if Finland and so many other places do better than the US without 1:1 initiatives, why do people think this will get us where we want to go? But now on with the show.
Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results – A wonderful article from the Wall Street Journal, about a fantastic teacher. Really, this is a “Mr. Holland’s Opus” in real life: a tough music teacher with expectations and passion that helped build students into successful adults. It laments much of current education reform and the “feel-good, be good” attitude so prevalent in our society. With subheaders like “Failure is an option” and “Strict is better than nice”, it backs up these opinions with examples and call-outs to research (no links, though, sadly). The takeaway: we fritter away treasure and years on distractions like HSE 21, and our schools put their resources and attention into things rather than people (students and teachers), and we sacrifice the current generation.
PhotoMath app solves equations for you – There were a lot of articles about this. I chose the CNN one because it got right to the point, just describing the thing: so there’s an app that will do you algebra problems for you. The point that is missed in many of these articles, and in general by the implementation of HSE 21, is that this is a tool, not an end in itself. Anybody could have done the same thing with Wolfram Alpha for the last five and a half years (the link solves the problem shown in the ubiquitous screenshot from PhotoMath). But many will use this as a shortcut, and limit learning and understanding of how or why you would solve that problem. Again, with our focus on technology instead of learning, we’re training drones. How does one build that equation from the question presented in a word problem? That’s the real thinking this will skip.
Review The Future: What is the Future of Education? – This broad-ranging podcast covers a lot of ground, but with an eye on the future. What about massive online open courses (MOOCs), and some other emerging technologies. Most of this is focused at the college level, but it drifts into a more broad consideration of the purpose and philosophy of education. Risks, benefits, challenges and lessons learned. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the points, even at the college level, but this is a valuable discussion if you have time to listen to it (~30 min). HSE needs this discussion specific to their environment. I don’t think they’re ready for it, either the change, or the discussion.
Side note – some proposals for future school calendars in HSE include something called “e-Learning Days”. Imagine this: your kids sit at home for the school day, and interact remotely with their teacher who is at school. What possible benefit is there from taking a normal school day and pretending it’s a snow day for parents and students. So there can be more “professional development” for teachers. That’s right, the teachers would be in their own meetings, with only a minority of time dedicated to interacting with remote students. The rumor mill strongly suggests that the teachers don’t like it either. Let’s hope this strange idea quickly and quietly fades away. Moving on…
Classroom of the Future: Student Centered or Device Centered? – Over at Living In Dialogue is a great article about devices, the Common Core, and technology vendors. The vendors have their own motivations, which are not always for the betterment of students. The goal is standardization of the technology. But they way they are going about it right now often involves standardization of the educational process. By extension, it also results in a standardization of the students. What they are proposing, “they” meant in the loosest sense, is quite ambitious from the technology perspective; no argument there. But compared to a non-automated alternative, it’s underwhelming (e.g. an e-library of 300 books preloaded on devices, versus the thousands to be found in a typical school library).
It’s Time To Rethink Our Use Of Technology In Schools – I was stunned by this article in Forbes. I would expect it to be a lot more “business friendly”, but it throws the whole educational technology industry under the bus. A quote: “For evidence, [Bob Harrison, industry and UK government expert] cites a lack of evidence. Despite numerous weighty, thorough – and expensive – studies, none has yet shown any link between information technology and improved learning. There is evidence that where schools and colleges use technology effectively there is a correlation with better outcomes. But that is not the same as saying the technology is actually aiding learning. It is not the technology that makes a difference, it is the teachers.” It softens a little, essentially saying that technology does have an important part to play, but how we are implementing it is wrong.
Hillsborough teacher takes a parting shot at the evaluation system – Further misuse and abuse of “novel” teacher evaluation systems, this one combined with new state laws and requirements from private grant funding. It’s a checklist of everything wrong with philosophy of education in the US and the ham-handed reform movements. It’s good to see a veteran teacher having the courage to say, “No more.” But new teachers that don’t want to leave the profession have no such luxury. I can only hope we’re seeing the extreme end of the pendulum swing, but that’s probably too naive.
Arizona Teacher Fired After Defending Black Student From Racist Bullying – You may have seen this in the new, but here’s another example of a teacher doing the obvious right thing and being punished for it. We can only assume she’d also have been fired if she had done nothing, so a lose-lose situation. She yelled at some students that habitually bullied another student and, on this particular day, were throwing rocks at him. And she got fired. This is education today.
What French Kids Eat For School Lunch Puts American Lunches To Shame – Random parting shot. I know school lunch departments do the best they can. But our expectations are so low, and the available resources so scarce, that our kids really eat crap. This just reflects the more general health issues we see in society with diet and health. But hey, let’s cut school funding even further. We say education matters but fail to back up that statement with any tangible action. In fact, so much done in education (to education?) contradicts that basic promise.
I have some more articles to review, and should have another post in the next few days.