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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wake up American educators

I was reminded many times last week why we are so behind in education in America. It centers on one word, "TECHNOLOGY."

First, I'm watching upheavals in the world because of WikiLeaks and because of social networks as protesters in countries use these tools to conduct revolutions. This is huge and we should be paying attention.

Obama gave a rousing SOTU speech on education and spoke about the new technologies as being the leaders in helping to repair the economy. So why aren't we connecting the dots between technology and education?

And yet for the past week, I have witnessed the NYState Regents exams which are pen and pencil on paper. No technology involved. Our schools still lack adequate technology. We still follow the 19th Century school model with the "sage on the stage." Our classrooms are getting more filled and our young teachers aren't bring technology with them to the classroom. The biggest problem is our children use technology which teachers say is distracting so they spend too much time trying to stop the technology instead of trying a Zen concept of using that technology power to their teaching. We are shooting ourselves in the foot in our classrooms everyday. Teachers spend too much time squelching the technology instead of embracing it and using it for the success of our students. Teachers haven't been taught how to use technology in education yet. When our students leave the classroom they are not prepared for college let alone work or the military where technology is embraced.

Then we are humbled by the Chinese Mom and then the scary story from people like Susan Maushart.

America is actually a very traditionalist country and loves the status quo, yet when things go bad, they blame teachers and look to the past for solutions, while the rest of the world moves forward. We shouldn't teach as we were taught, we should teach for the future.

Until we start using technology in our classrooms, we are not going to find our future as shiny as it ought to be. The Googles and Facebooks of the world are lovely examples of success, but they don't employ that many people for the amount of money they make. We need more tech jobs and more people working and producing. Americans are still merely consumers and not the producers they need to be. By filtering, blocking, and forbidding the use of technology in our classrooms we are sending the wrong message and not figuring out how to use technology in our classrooms. Both the Chinese mom and Susan are great examples of just how backwards America is when it comes to education. Since we don't understand the power of technology and we fear it, we do what the Chinese mom and Susan do, we forbid it. Schools have done the same thing for decades with new technologies. Rather than figure out how to use them they forbid them while the rest of the world excels and passes us by.

The early discussion by Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about his traveling couple's fear of technology is as true in 1974 when he wrote this classic as it is today.

I sure would like to see a Technology Revolution in American Education. Technology is the one word that can solve many of our problems and technology in education is key.

1 comment:

K. Jasper said...

Well said, Ted. I think too that school administrators and school boards hinder use of technology in the classroom. Our students carry more technology on their person than we have in some of our classrooms, yet our school's rules call for students to put their phones in their lockers during the school day; we're afraid of their texting and being distracted. As teachers, we can't take advantage of the technology students have at their access. I, and others, advocate for a change in rules, to no avail so far.