Will Richardson writing in the Ed-Tech Insider, reports on yet another conference dealing with the reform public education. The Education Visionary Conference, sponsored by a whole bunch of high tech companies and government officials (all experts in teaching and learning for sure), seems to have featured the usual wails over the statistics combined with the usual declarations of the need for change.
"We are so trapped in the memory of what school was like for us," Patrick said. "When we were students, the world outside of school looked like the world inside school. Now, it does not.
"The paper-based system does not make any sense to kids who are coming up in school," Patrick added. "Is our educational system geared toward innovation? Do we want an 18th-century model or a 21st-century model for our schools? The 18th-century model is the one we have now."
She continued: "The ed-tech community loves the term ‘integration.’ But our schools need transformation, not integration."
That may sound like a pretty strong call for the complete overhaul of the American education system – until you consider the source. The speaker was a representative from the Department of Education, where the concept of change consists of piling layers of testing on top of the current old structure.
Will correctly points out that, while there are a few examples of schools which allows students to "take charge of their own learning and their own school", for the most part "schools don’t have the courage to take such steps". I’d take that one step farther: schools (including most private schools) are scared to death of any alteration to their traditional methods of doing business.
The corporate people at this conference may believe that their equipment and software offers all the solutions to what ails public education. However, just adding layers of technology won’t do any more good than adding new testing requirements. Unless they – and everyone in the education establishment – are willing to discuss rebuilding teaching and learning from the ground up, nothing is going to change.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Good, student centered teaching can use technology in many incredible ways, but technology will not create this environment. Only teachers (with the support of administrators and parents) can do it.