Thursday, October 31, 2013
Technology and the devaluation of teachers
Logic would dictate that if you are going to create standards that every school in the United States has to go by, you would involve teachers in the process. For the most part, that has not been done.
Instead, the people who were brought to the table were not those who are on the front lines teaching children every day, but those who are making money from education and constructing a system designed to rake in even more.
The table was big enough for representatives of the technology companies, who made absolutely sure that the new tests had to be taken online and that schools would need a never-ending supply of tablets, laptops, and accessories.
There was also room for those who write the textbooks and create the standardized tests. Plenty of space was left to squeeze in those in the business of milking money from education through the creation of charter schools.
When the table was filled, the only ones left on the outside, still manning the trenches in schools across the nation were those who should have received the first invitations- the classroom teachers.
So for the most part, with little or no input from state legislatures and local boards of education, the people who stand to make the most from education have created a nationwide system that will keep the cash flowing.
The news is full of stories about school officials who claim to have solved everything that is wrong with education by providing their students with laptops or tablets. While no evidence is available to support those proclamations, more and more districts are spending millions of dollars in a high-tech version of keeping up with the Joneses...and while the companies that created Common Core Standards are reaping the benefits, it is the taxpayers who are footing the bill.
The most dangerous idea being promoted by these educational charlatans is that teachers are unnecessary for schools to succeed- the true role of the teacher in their perfect classroom is someone who facilitates instead of teaches, while the students, using the technology at their disposal, magically forget about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other distraction, and become their own teachers.
An article in the latest Education World features balanced coverage of the recent phenomenon of school districts falling all over themselves to give their students their own personal computers or tablets.
Included in that article is a quote from the technology coordinator of the Coachella Valley Unified School District near Los Angeles:
The district has set up headquarters in a trailer to coordinate the massive distribution of nearly 20,000 iPads and accompanying training, security, curriculum changes, parental consent forms, and more. Inspirational quotes dot the walls- not from famous educators, but from Apple's late founder, Steve Jobs.
Matt Hamilton, the district's educational technology coordinator, says educators and students are learning from each other. "No one is the expert anymore," he says. "The whole paradigm has really shifted. Teachers are no longer possessors of knowledge. They're more the facilitators of learning."
It is easy to see where this is going. If the teachers are no longer experts, but are merely facilitators- then why do school districts need to pay them so much money? Why should teachers be allowed to continue to be a drain on school finances?
Just hire a facilitator for every classroom- that will leave more money for laptops, iPads, tests and practice tests.
And this is a Race to the Top?