Sunday, December 22, 2013
Placing technology ahead of teachers will not work
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As anyone who has ever been a student in my classroom (and as far as I have been able to determine, that does not include any of my critics) I was always able to stay ahead of the curve when it came to using technology in the classroom.
If I had been allowed to continue my teaching, I have no doubt that I would have adjusted to the addition of IPads for every middle school student in the Joplin R-8 School District.
Unfortunately, that is more than I can say for the people who are implementing this ill-advised strategy. If you have watched the pronouncements of soon-to-be former Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer you have heard her talk numerous times about the students learning on their own with teachers serving as facilitators rather than doing any teaching.
That is a recipe for disaster.
Of course, we love it when students run with what we give them and seek knowledge on their own, but that is never going to be the way most education works even if we have world class facilitators. Pushing this idea that teachers are not important and are interchangeable is doing a disservice to students. How many of us can think back to our school days and remember teachers who provided us with knowledge and inspired us to learn more?
How many people who have succeeded would have done so if educators in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s had simply been facilitators and had not provided us with the knowledge we needed to succeed?
Learning, no matter what people like Angie Besendorfer say, is not something that magically occurs when you hand a student a laptop or an IPad. What is ironic is that today's teachers are being devalued by administrators who, for the most part, have spent little time in the classroom. Those of us who received our education in public schools a few decades ago were used to having administrators who served several years in the classroom before becoming principals and superintendents.
In today's education, many are fast-tracking themselves into administrative positions and are more interested in building resumes than they are in building an educational foundation that will last far beyond their years.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where the path to the top is not achieved by administrators who build a strong foundation and an educational community. Those who succeed and end up making salaries three or four times as much as the classroom teachers they often treat like disposable commodities are the ones who are willing to latch on to any new program, or several at once, just to be able to show they are innovative.
They move on, often leaving their former school systems in debt and having to recover from all of the "innovation."
Their school systems are loaded with technology and buzz-word programs, often at the expense of teachers and students.
Take a look at your local school district. Is that what is happening?