Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Back again...Some thoughts on education, technology, and schools today


It's been a long time since I've blogged, but I started my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Technology this fall and I thought this would be a good spaceto sort out thoughts and ideas as they come. I was reading Montessori's 1912 article entitled, a critical consideration of the new pedagogy in its-relation to modern science and I was struck by her disdain for the desk, rewards systems, and the schools aim to silence students most of the day. She writes,  "Today (1912) we hold the pupils in school, restricted by those instruments so degrading to body and spirit, the desk–and material prizes and punishments. Our aim in all this is to reduce them to the discipline of immobility and silence,–to lead them,– where? Far too often toward no definite end." 

She was on to something back in 1912. She understood that our desire to learn is to be cultivated not constrained. What is the ultimate aim of organized schooling? Is it possible to cultivate critical thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers in classrooms lined with rows, rules, and regulations about what to learn, when to learn, and how to learn? Perhaps one way we could advance organized schooling is to start letting kids use the internet and tools available to them on every single project, assignment, and assessment. Why glorify the lowest level of learning (memorizing) and start teaching kids how to create and evaluate. We should stop thinking of a school as a place where kids go to primarily become disciplined, dutiful, dispensers of information but as a space to interact, explore, and figure things out on there own. Where learning is fun and exciting rather than boring and fearful. The beauty of the internet world we live in today is that teachers don't have to know everything but they can lead students down new paths. Teachers can act as a trail boss to help students explore new paths and ideas.

Students can be set free by teachers that let them use all available technology to figure things out, create things, and evaluate things. Schools that place a high value on the higher things of blooms taxonomy will better position their students to become valuable members of society.

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