Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Monday, August 2, 2010

Technology and paraphrasing

I just read a very disturbing article in the New York Times, "Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age" by Trip Gabriel. My immediate response was , "What Bullshit."

I've always had a problem with this line of crap from schools, teachers, and students. The problem has started with the adults who have been too lazy to learn about this new media. Students have been left alone to learn on their own and to abuse the freedom of it without any guidance. Schools are the most responsible for this disaster because they have put their heads in the sand and hid behind lawyers. The schools run by ignorance have led the way to making our schools technologically illiterate. Older teachers have been saved by tenure not to learn how to use the new technologies and the new teachers haven't learned how to use the new technologies in their own education in those elite schools of education in our country. Technology isn't any different than other forms of teaching and teaching about paraphrasing. The problem is we have to get over our fear and ignorance of technology in schools.

Now consider that these very students are alone in their homes using the internet, not monitored by any adult and learning so many bad habits. Schools must take the initiative and learn about these tools and teach them, especially paraphrasing. It is time schools took control of education in this country and wrest it from the hands of the lawyers.

I don't have this problem because my scholars create web pages and use the web for their resources. They are learning how to use the powerful resources of the internet in a responsible and pedagogically sound way. Plagiarism doesn't happen because I am teaching them how to paraphrase, I monitor their work daily, and we engage in peer review. In addition, I teach them how to cite the web pages they have used by creating links in their work to the sources of their readings. Finally, a quick demonstration of how a good search engine will help me find the work they copied faster than they found it.

The Internet is a very powerful tool and when teacher decide to understand this and use it, instead of rejecting it and continuing to follow their old ways; we will then not have this ridiculous situation. This is an adult problem and adults have to solve it by getting out of their rut and moving on. So far, we have done a very bad job. We are concentrating on the wrong goals, like Race to the Top, instead of teaching students how to use the technology correctly. The problem is at the top, they are not educators. Look at those in educational leadership roles in Washington and NYC. Heck our main problem in NYC is constant reorganization and we have a lawyer leading our schools.

The students should know better, but the schools and the teachers have failed them miserably. This is a major issue and one of the key issues contributing to the poor showing our schools are making. In my opinion, if we solve this technology road bump in education the other problems will fall into place. When students are left alone to learn something this crucial, then we will have problems and we have problems. Where are the adults in this equation?

We still don't see schools of education requiring their students who will be teachers to use the technology. In the article, the author quotes someone about how students are lazy, so they copy. Wrong, it is the adults who are lazy as demonstrated by their refusal to learn the technology and to continue to teach as they were taught. We have a new setting and the adults are not rising to the occasion. They come to us ignorant of technological skills. Older teachers are protected from learning and tenure protects them from being dismissed when they don't learn. Schools have filters and provide all sorts of road blocks to successful technology implementation as they hide behind lawyers. We have too many lawyers involved in educational decisions and not enough pedagogues.

There is a way to teach and use technology in any class. I know this because I've been doing it since 1984 and my scholars learn the correct way to use their sources. My scholars aren't spewing stupid comments like the ones I read in this article.

I'm so disgusted with education in this country. I'm disgusted because of the ignorance of our educational leaders and our schools of education. To school leadership I say "Get your head out of the sand or anywhere else it might be and look to technology to cure our educational woes." The current Race to the Top is merely a remix of past failures and a misdirection from the real problems. If something doesn't work, why retry it with a new name. Joel Klein proves this every time he reorganizes Tweed. It's still an incompetent department of education. Race to the Top is nothing new. Technology used correctly in the classrooms, now that would be something new and would improve education in a heartbeat. Repeating the same mistakes over and over again is not the intelligent way to solve a problem. Think outside the box. Oh and teach your scholars how to paraphrase. We want them to be producers, NOT reproducers.

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