A child miseducated is a child lost
John F. Kennedy
A significant number of social and economic maladies afflicting every country can be attributed to a lack of education. Nearly every negative social and economic statistic would decline, if we were more effective in educating our populations.
Education is powerful, it changes lives. The education I am describing is about more than information transfer. It is more than teaching curriculum. It takes place both in and outside school classrooms. It reaches into the heart and mind of the individual, and changes things. It changes the way we see the world, and the way we see ourselves. It expands the imagination, orders our priorities, and develops our dreams.
Education remakes us.
My mom was a teacher. She did her best teaching at home. I learned early about the extraordinary journey one could take through a book…to distant lands…to amazing times in the past. At my fingertips were books of all types, including comic books, and among the latter were those of the Shakespeare variety.
When my older sisters returned from school with homework, I verbally yearned for homework of my own. My mom and dad made education interesting, compelling, and attractive. By the time I entered the classroom, the teachers work had been made easy. She already had my attention.
Attention is not nearly as easy to get as it was in my day, but it is no less essential to the learning process. Education cannot remake, unless it can hold attention. Technology can help. In fact, it is essential.
The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills. Classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands. This is already evidenced by our nation’s shortage of high-tech and other skilled workers—a trend that is projected to grow in coming years.
Prakash Nair, The Classroom Is Obsolete,
Education Week, July 29, 2011
Without the seamless integration of technology into the classroom of the 21st century, it will remain a relic of times gone by, a place best suited for regurgitation.
Many a child has left a classroom capable of regurgitating information, but they have not been educated. They haven’t even been informed. They certainly haven’t been taught to think. These are those who have learned how to game the system, and when they enter the work force, this is exactly what they will do.
Instead, most of them endure what I call ‘regurgitation education’ and are stuck in institutions that expect them to memorize the periodic table, the names of 50 state capitals and the major rivers of the United States.
John Merrow, The Influence of Teachers
These system thinkers won’t build or create. Their only focus will be, how can they get what they want out of the system. In school they want grades, and work the system for academic profit. In the workforce they want money, and work the system for financial profit. They don’t create, build, or change anything. All they do is take…and the world will be the worse for their success.
These are those, who to use the words of John F. Kennedy were “miseducated”. The education they received made their worlds smaller not larger, and as a consequence their dreams became more selfish.
If we leave the classroom untouched, we can expect more of the same.
We have to restore hope to education, which means understanding a test can measure a child’s retention, but it can never know their mind. This is why teachers are so important, they can see what a test will never tell you. It is also why technology is important, because it can help us overcome the human limits, which suppress our potential.
Teachers properly equipped and trained in the use of technology can interest the uninterested, captivate the gifted, and level the playing field for those with disabilities. In short, this dynamic duo possesses the ability to make more people successful. Despite this truth, we are slow to embrace it’s use in a significant way.
Why are we slow to embrace technology?
The proper embrace of technology in the classroom will prove to be disruptive, and create an environment where the system can no longer be gamed. While this will be good for many, it will be unpredictable for some.
When the poor have access to the same tools as the rich…things change. When the disadvantaged can travel to Paris without leaving their living room, and speak French with a citizen of France through Skype…having the money to travel loses its advantages.
If the verbally challenged person with autism can turn an iPad into a communication device, he or she can be included in society. They can build relationships, make contributions, and add diversity to a world which is learning to accept everything except disability.
Technology has begun to change the world, but until it is allowed to disrupt the classroom we will only see a shadow of what is possible.
This is why I believe…
Technology + Education = Hope