Ensuring our Own Obsolescence

(This post started as a comment on Will Richardson’s “My Teacher is an App”.

How do we make changes in public education that will transcend the model of education that is so entrenched in many of our schools? There are no easy answers.  Many people outside of the education profession believe we need to do more of the same, for more hours, using the efficiencies that technology affords that process to somehow make it better.  Instruct, measure, adjust….repeat—Simple formula.  The ed-reform story made popular today is centered on what is measured in American schools and how it does not equal what is measured elsewhere.  Current reform-minded-thinking espouses that those who staff our institutions are the problem.  Teachers cannot (or will not) instruct, students do not get what they need, measurement results are comparatively poor.  As a result, pop-reformers want to take the obsolete transaction of teacher gives knowledge-student takes knowledge-school measures knowledge gained model and make it work #morebetterharder, in a standardized way. In a time before the ubiquitous availability of information, this type of transaction for learning was worth the cost for students, teachers and our economy.  The conditions have changed.  Technology can make that kind of education more efficient.  SO WHAT!  Kids today can access any information they want when it is wanted.  BUT, can they effectively learn to share, co-create, explore, and make new meaning as well as have meaningful experiential learning via on-line modes only?  Where do those skills and experiences fit into the model of education that is being pushed today?  Environments that are conducive to a learning experience that is deeper and more meaningful, that go beyond simple instruction and regurgitation are not so simple. Public education needs to embrace those aspects of a learning culture that can’t be made more efficient by a bunch of computers that programmatically measure a century’s old pedagogy’s affect on student knowledge acquisition.   There is certainly a richness that can occur in a live classroom, or at least a class that blends live instruction with online instruction, that cannot be matched by a Kahn Academy-styled program based on century’s old learning models.  What I do know is this; we have to offer an alternative change model that contrasts with those being offered by the politician-corporate reformers.  We need to talk about learning and define those skills which today’s students need to construct the world that they choose to build.  The initiative may be daunting, but if we do not under take it, who will?  If we continue to do instruction as it has been done for the past 100 years, we are ensuring our own obsolescence.

Picture made available via bupowski’s photostream on Flickr


One thought on “Ensuring our Own Obsolescence

  1. I’m accepting this challenge and focusing the entire second half of the year on how my students can “effectively learn to share, co-create, explore, and make new meaning as well as have meaningful experiential learning” in an innovative way that outshines online learning.

    One thing I can say that goes against any online curriculum for me? My most memorable breakthroughs, and I would argue my students most memorable breakthroughs have all come in one on one conversations outside of the normal confines of our 53 minute class. This is not possible within the structure of the online only environment.

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