Who I am: Chris Lehmann
What I do: Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA (Opening 9/06).
What I did: Technology Coordinator / English Teacher / Girls Basketball Coach / Ultimate Coach at the Beacon School, a fantastic progressive public high school in Manhattan.
Email: chris [at] practicaltheory [dot] org.
Matt Skurnick about Sustaining the Teaching Life
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Jon Goldman was both my
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Perhaps a more apt term
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Chris, thanks. Pete is my
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Saturday, May 17. 2008
[First seen when Arvind Grover blogged about this video. And in full disclosure, I've spoken at the CoSN, conference, and CoSN is the organization for whom this video was made, and been on a panel with Ken Kay, and my interactions with Ken Kay and Keith Kruger have been nothing but positive. With that...]
[5.21.08 -- Updated with what I presume is the final version of the movie. In re-examining it, I am struck by how close it comes to being what I want to hear from CoSN. I love that Dan Pink is pointing out the foolishness of standardized testing. I love Ken Kay talking about the skills we need to value. But did we need to close with 'the death of education and the dawn of learning?' There are a few moments in that video that still, to me, undermine the message we most need.]
You'd think I'd love this video... and in fact, there's a lot about it I do. I like that Ken Kay and Dan Pink are both talking about synthesis and the new skills that are going to be necessary for the 21st Century. That stuff is great. But the video rings a little hollow to me. For a lot of reasons, I think it falls short of what we need... and of course, any five minute video will, but I've got some specific complaints, not the least of which is that this piece, which is very slick and well done, is, in the end, a piece of public relations by Pearson Education, but let's deal with some of the content first.
I'm disturbed by the fascination with connection for connection's sake that I see in the first few minutes of the video. I remain very, very concerned with the notion that all we have to do is let the kids connect with the world -- just like they do on Facebook or MySpace -- and the kids will learn. There's a fallacy there, and my experience with how much really deep teaching of digital ethics we've had to do at SLA to counter all that the kids come in the door thinking about the digital world. Just introducing connection into our schools without a sense of what we want to do when we connect, how it changes things when we do it, and what we gain and lose when we change our schools this way. We have to stop just thinking that the introduction of these tools without an incredible amount of planning and forethought will change anything for the better. If we have learned anything from the failures of laptop initiatives in places like Liverpool, NY, it is just how hard it is to do this right.
And there's something in that video that makes it seem like this is easy to do, and it's not. We don't want to just ape the rest of the world in schools. Schools should remain something different than the lives kids lead outside of school. That's ok. That's even good. Because I think much of the input that kids have outside of school (marketing, specifically, I suppose) isn't a good thing. Schools should be different than that. Not the way they are now, but not the way those folks talk about it, either.
I just worry a lot that our ideas are being sold as panaceas, perhaps because they are being shilled by folks with a moneyed interest in them, and that makes it much harder to have an honest conversation about them. Because nowhere in that talk -- which was produced and sponsored by Pearson Learning is there much of an honest discussion of just how hard implementation of these ideas actually is.
Because it is plenty hard... ask SLA teachers... it ain't easy. And the problem is that our entire structure has to change to make it easier. You can't teach 150 kids a day this way... you can't have traditional credit hours... you have to find new ways to look at your classroom. Everything from school design to teacher contracts to class size and teacher load to curriculum and assessment -- everything we do in schools -- has to be on the table for change if we are to achieve the kind of schools that video is speaking about. The only thing that shouldn't be on the table, and that the video actually hints that it should be, is the need for teachers in their day to day lives-- the adults who can make a deep profound impact in kids' lives.
And missing from this conversation is any sort of historical sense of education. The fact is ideas like the ones that Kay and Pink are talking about have been around in schools for a long, long time... just not in most schools because, as Heppel says, most schools the factory model. Well, it's not technology that changes that, it's sound educational practice. The technology can be transformative, but only when coupled with a sense of where you are going and why. Let's not forget the last 100 years of progressive school reform as we look to change schools today. We have to learn from the lessons of the past -- we must learn why the progressive school movement lost to the factory model as the dominant educational model in America, if we expect to be successful in whatever the next wave of school reform turns out to be.
And I don't know... perhaps under it all, I have a sense that these folks think, "If we just change it all up, the kids will all suddenly just start learning like crazy" when that misses several points -- 1) we still have an insanely anti-intellectual culture that is so much more powerful than schools. 2) Deep learning is still hard, and our culture is moving away from valuing things that are hard to do. 3) We still need teachers to teach kids thoughtfulness, wisdom, care, compassion, and there's an anti-teacher rhetoric that, to me, undermines that video's message.
I want to see us start problematizing all these ideas. I want our community to get more rigorous about our ideas. I want us to start talking about what we gain and what we lose when we make these choices because I think we have to be really honest or we'll lose this battle. We cannot pretend these ideas "save" our schools, they create different schools -- better ones, I believe -- but very, very different ones, and that's the piece I see missing. But the problem is that I'm not sure that's the message this video was meant to bring out.
Because now we have another "Did You Know" style video. But now, it's been made, not by a teacher trying to shake up a faculty, but by a multi-national corporation that has seen a 60% rise in stock price since 2003 and a product line that includes a district-wide web-based benchmark testing program. Perhaps that should give us pause and make us question the ideas in that video a bit more carefully.
Our schools need to change. There are a lot of ideas in that video that I agree with, heck, if you parsed that video carefully, you'd find some powerful similarities between many of the ideas and the keynote speech I gave last week. But let's make sure we keep asking ourselves how these ideas are being presented and who is presenting them. And let's make sure we don't just stop with the five minute video, because these ideas are easy when presenting in sound-bite fashion. It's, to quote the West Wing, "the next ten words and the ten words after that" that are the problem. We need to start questioning, asking why and then how... we need to start figuring out a myriad of ways to achieve those goals, school by school and district by district.
What's so amazing about that video is how un-revolutionary it should be by now. What should worry us is that Pearson -- and many companies like them -- are ready to sell us the product that they swear will move us there. And I, for one, don't believe them.
[Thanks to Dean Shareski for being on the other end of a Skype chat as I tried to parse out the ideas that became this post.]
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As you threw me the "what do you think of this video" question, I confessed I used it in a recent presentation.
I see this as a well done, polished way of communicating some ideas that to many are new and emerging. I agree the next 10 words are really important. I hoped I was able to frame them correctly as I spoke.
I would also say that as a Canadian, I'm much less familiar with both the impact of NCLB or the influence of publishing companies. I have to be honest I didn't notice it was produced by Pearson. It may not have influenced my decision to use it but I feel a bit silly not seeing that. Not as literate as I thought I was.
Thanks for pushing my thinking.
Great post. I've seen this video at numerous blog sites over the past week and none had made mention of the production company behind it. I still like it, because I think it makes people think about the shifts that need to happen if we are going to enable our students to become fully digital literate and make the most of what the web can offer. I do think you highlight an important point - this shift is not going to be easy and we do need to focus on the learning as our most important motivation rather than communication for communications sake. I'm going to watch your keynote - interested in what you have to say.
I'm reminded of the traveling salesmen seen in Westerns, moving from town to town, pawning their cure-all elixir.
"Step right up folks, take a shot of my magical 'technology integration' and your kids will be-a-learn'in in no time at all!"
As you say, it isn't just about connecting! It is about creating a rich learning context. It is about thoughtfully designing the learning space, as well as creating a learning environment that is friendly, useful and meaningful to the learners. It is creating structures, (*scaffolding*), that promotes higher order thinking and deep learning. It is anything but easy, and it is completely rewarding!
Absolutely. Thank you for posting your thoughts about this. There was something that bothered me about that video and you hit on it exactly.
"We have to stop just thinking that the introduction of these tools without an incredible amount of planning and forethought will change anything for the better."
Yes. I think many of us who are advocating for more technology in schools want to avoid saying this because there is a reluctance among people to try new things and the last thing we want to do is to tell them they're also hard to do. But we can't put up false solutions; teachers can spot those a mile away.
Such as: "Just let them use their cell phones!" Teachers know what a huge distraction those are, and they'll tune you out if that's your answer. If you can demonstrate how they can be managed and how they can be used in a meaningful ways, that's one thing. But to just use them as a solution or as a way to chide teachers for being close-minded is wrong and counterproductive.
You're right, the main advantage technology and connectivity offers us is not that it's easy, its that it can lead to deeper, more meaningful learning.
"Deep learning is still hard, and our culture is moving away from valuing things that are hard to do."
I think that belongs in The Quote File! I agree - there are no magic wands, there are no easy answers and there are no simple fixes. People who think that we're going to achieve education reform by replacing or going around teachers don't understand what learning is. Technology is not the solution, it's a tool to use when building the solution, and we mustn't forget that.
This video crossed my world about a week ago. I was prepping a session for the next day to introduce myself to the community I'll be working with. It was a nice blend of people, message, and format.
The corporate angle was a touch uncomfortable. My first ever blog post back in 2002 was in reaction to large corporations with messages and solutions to educational technology. Strike one.
I Twittered the video and quickly got called out by our distinguished colleague from New Jersey. He asked whether I believed the people featured in the video lived the world they spoke of. This is an extension of a conversation that hit my radar bluntly at last years' NECC as I watched folks speak of creativity and innovation while continuously clicking through PowerPoint decks circa 1998. It goes much deeper than this single instance. Strike two.
I showed the video in my session the next day. Among the more difficult challenges that lie ahead of me at my new gig is positioning our organization as something other than an internet service provider for schools. 90% of the conversation at our conference is about the technical side of the network. My task is developing the network around that network. Flaunting this video and message early on would go a long way in explaining a bit more why I'm on board.
A number of folks from our office were sitting back row. Toward the end the Associate Director, a guy I haven't really talked to yet, jumps on me during the brief Q & A. He lead with reaching back to Dewey. His response was very thoughtful...we were literally "thinking through this" in real time. He threw in a bit of a message about being critical consumers of stuff like this.
My jaw dropped. All I could think was "Wow. I'm working with the love child of Lehman, Richardson, and Stager."
Great post, I'm glad I'm not alone in my discomfort of this video. (I still can't find that US Dept of Commerce report btw - did you?) I blogged about my reaction to the individual statements. In doing so, I made a rough transcription, and took a closer look at who was in the video. I didn't know everyone, but when I looked them up, what struck me immediately was that everyone in the piece had a monetary or political interest in the ideas they were presenting.
I think that, like it or not we will have to partner with these large corporate entities eventually if reform or change is to happen in an organized way. Sadly, they pull the strings and are a big part of the lobby in Washington. Will the grassroots effort pay off, or will it be, as you say encompassed by shrewd businessmen?
I like the three points you made, which are at the heart of the problem in education, traditional or otherwise. It seems that this was missed in the video, it assumed, that kids are being educated in the home, that they would choose learn higher-level skills than consume mindless media, and that learning occurs from seemingly random interactions with the world.
Thanks for calling this out in such a well-thought out and reasoned way.
the citation on the U.S. Department of Commerce is
Table 4.b https://www.esa.doc.gov/reports/DE-Chap4.pdf
Digital Economy 2003 , U.S. Department of Commerce Survey of IT-Intensity of 55 Industries
While I did also share the video on my blog, I did so because of a local connection. One of our local administrators, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Debby Baker, is in this video. I disagree that with Rich Platt that everyone had a "political or monetary interest". I've spoken with Dr. Baker many times over the past year and her work is student-centered.
Chris, your thoughts on this video have added support to my thoughts about a recent push to make connections schools and classrooms in our districts.
Being an open-source sort of guy, I can understand (and relate to) the anti-corporate rhetoric I see here, but I must say, I think we're reading a bit too much into these 5 minutes and making way too many assumptions about motivation. Having worked with CoSN for some time and through familiarity, if not personal friendship, with the speakers in the video, I can state with confidence that the aim was not some sort of short-sighted call for Utopian change or an opportunistic attempt to bolster one's reputation and/or profitability, but was instead a courageous effort to coax the short-sighted out of their penchant to resist, ban, block, lock down, and control all things digital. It was a call to all in education to seek relevance in a world that is passing them by.
For too long, fear and the status quo have plagued our schools and leadership, to the detriment of our students. Unlike the SLA, most are not even considering the issues that Chris has thoughtfully put forth in this post, because they have already decided to ignore them and pretend that the rest of the world does not exist. Far too many are determined to keep every facet of education inside their four walls. They view technology as a tool to reinforce 19th century pedagogy (ie the ever-popular "instructional technology"), rather than as a resource by which knowledge can be constructed and global learning opportunities can be discovered, nurtured, and grown.
Yes, it will be hard to build the idealistic learning environment, and yes, teachers and leaders will be critical in the process. But we need to stay active. We need to stay at it. We need to vigorously engage ourselves in re-thinking the role of technology in the classroom of tomorrow.
But before we can do any of that, we need to convince education leaders that pretending these technologies do not exist, imagining that the global perspective is irrelevant, and purporting that the status quo is OK will only result in placing our children and our future at risk. That, I believe, is the motivation by which this video was made.
Glad to hear Dr. Baker is one of the good guys -- If she is who I think she is I praised her snippet in my blog post as being the . . . -
". . . most lucid bit of advice in the entire piece. But, don't just give them the tools, give them the training and the time, make sure that it enhances their day, doesn't burden them. And reward those who innovate, collaborate and encourage others to join them. "
I do see the danger of being too anti-corporate, and reading too much into this . . . it is meant to be a conversation starter. And it worked! Whether they agree with it or not, the community is looking at this hard to see if it has value. It succeeded in rousing my attention, getting me to look into the CoSN organization, find out who was talking in the video, etc. Clearly in some fashion, the video is successful.
Rich, yes, that was Dr. Baker. I wonder though when this was actually created. If it was this year, even at the most recent CoSN conference, why they got her title wrong. Dr. Baker was in the Leroy Central School District, however, she is now the Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction for the Brighton Central School District. I'm not so sure she was even the superintendent of schools in Leroy. For such a video I would expect that Pearson might do their homework and not have someone's title be "??????????".
I totally agree -- I think that was just sloppy -- Barbra Nielson was a former state superintendent in S.C. - and she is somehow affiliated with the University of Louisville or something of that nature -- to be honest, her comment was one of the ones that irked me -- not that I disagree that schools might change, and a hybridization of schools, at least to some degree is in the future, it was her implication that we could bulldoze all the schools today, and we would be fine it really misses some of the human development aspects of educating the whole child.
I was puzzled by her title too, because when I wrote up the transcript and tried to link to the speaker's profiles I found her listed as an assistant, and found no mention of her in Le Roy schools. . .
For me, the video is a conversation starter. When I think about audience, this one appears to be better suited for the suits (IMHO). There are others out there which are better suited for teachers. Plus, there is only so much you can do in 5mins. I think we all know that we aren't going to be able to sound bite all of the changes we need to make to support student learning in a meaningful and purposeful way.
My colleagues and I have joked about creating a facilitation guide so that we can move the conversation deeper. Maybe we should revisit this idea.
There's no question that the people on the video are good people. That's not the issue. Nor is there a thought that Pearson is some evil mustache-twisting corporation. But let's also remember that Pearson's first responsibility is to its shareholders, and NCLB has been very, very good to corporations like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Kaplan and others. So I question whether or not Pearson wants to see the current educational system repealed.
I respect the people in the video, and I respect that all of the ones I've met or read have much more to say about education, but I also do question both the message that this particular video projects and the underlying messenger.
Chris, et al --
I understand your suspicions that our new PSA was produced in dark corporate boardrooms by greedy corporate folks. Unfortunately, that is not the truth.
As the national nonprofit association of school district technology leaders/CTOs, CoSN (www.cosn.org), Iapproached Pearson Foundation about this idea. We pitched the need to create this PSA...not vice versa...and we take total responsibliity for the content.
The history of this PSA is decidedly less sinister than presented in some of the blog postings. At a retreat last December we were exploring how we might stimulate a conversation about the need to change education and the role that technology might play. We noted that a PPT by a tech director in CO (Shift Happens) had gotten lots of dissemination via the web, and we wanted to deepen the conversation with a compelling video.
I suggested that we film some of the global leaders who were coming to the CoSN annual conf. in March which is what happened.
Our hope is to stimulate a conversation...and clearly we have. Too many of our conversations about education reform are framed in a "U.S. vs the world". We have tried in this PSA to point out that this is a global conversation, and everywhere they are struggling to redefine 21st century learning.
Bottomline: This is an educational PSA, not a corporate pitch. It is nicely produced, and for that we thank Pearson Foundation.
Hope this clarifies the situation.
Keith Krueger, CoSN CEO
I hope it didn't come off that I thought it was created in dark boardrooms. It's one of the reasons why I started by saying that my interactions with CoSN and you have been nothing but positive. I do worry about the relation between for-profit companies, NCLB and the advocacy we all do, but that's my personal windmill to tilt at. And while Pearson Foundation is the non-profit wing of Pearson, I worry. Part of that comes from talking with educators all over who talk about how so many companies like Pearson and Kaplan are using technology to do exactly the opposite kind of work as the message of the video.
And I agree, it's about getting the conversation going. I've been amazed at the comments that this entry has engendered.
Thanks for joining the conversation on this thread, and thank you for your clarifications.
Speaking for myself, it's less that I thought the motives were sinister; it's just that the video seems to miss the mark, and from leaders, I expect more.
The conversation within the video remains exceedingly general; as several other people point out, it never makes it past the "Networks are nice!" place, and into some of the more nuanced details of the discussion.
While I realize that a 6 minute PSA isn't a likely medium for anything approaching depth, are we really still at the place where these types of generalizations are helpful? Wouldn't it be more effective to seed the conversation with some next steps/additional resources?
In listening to the conversation/dialogue within the video, there really isn't much there that requires technology, or that creates a compelling use for technology. Much of what is described in the video as "21st century literacy" feels more like critical thinking -- nothing that couldn't be addressed within a nice dialectic informed by access to primary and secondary sources.
While technology provides us with the opportunity to work within that medium (beyond schools; beyond textbooks; and stretching the traditional roles of teacher, learner, and expert) the video doesn't begin to scratch the surface.
And it doesn't help things, of course, that the statistics aren't cited (although I see that you added one citation in the comments above -- thanks), and that one of the speakers has a series of question marks where her title should be. These elements further diminish the credibility of the information. Part of what I look for in a leader is a good model -- when I taught digital/media literacy to my students, this lack of verifiability was one of the things I trained my students to flag, as it raises the question about what other elements were missed/overlooked.
Thank you for taking the time to respond here. I look forward to the conversation as it continues to develop.
I think Chris's concerns about this video help explain why some teachers and administrators are somewhat anti-technology. I think many educators see videos like this and think about the issues Chris raises - the difficulties, the importance of going beyond simply connecting students, etc. They begin to think that those people promoting technology are removed from the realities of a classroom. If we are ever going to get those folks on board we are going to have to address the deeper, more challenging issues rather than simply throwing out statistics and anecdotes. Videos like this are more useful for those who are already on board or getting on board. (Regardless of who made the video, although that's certainly something to be aware of.)
While I would agree that Pearson is certainly worthy of our ire (I've done my fair share of berating them in a number of forums), I'm not sure the Pearson Foundation can so easily be assumed to be bound by the goals of corporate Pearson. That said, having been involved in much of the conversation around this vision, I can say, with confidence, that this is a CoSN video, not a Pearson video. It is therefore important to consider what type of organization CoSN is and to whom the message was targeted. While it's quite easy for innovators (like us ) to suggest a lack of foresight or investment in the "deeper issues", we must understand that CoSN is an organization whose sole constituency is CTOs. In other words, the message was aimed at the people who bring together the people who think about the finer points - the "suits", as suggested above. And Karen Greenwood Henke and I will be speaking to the suits at length about the finer points at the upcoming CoSN CTO clinic in San Diego next week.
As for the "when" and "where" of the video, I'm pretty sure it was shot at the CoSN conference in D.C. back in March - that's the only time and place I can think of that all these people were together at once. It's a shame that Pearson didn't bother to check into the details of the speakers prior to rolling it out, but, then again, the message is about something greater than the messengers, don't you think? Must we always insist on "getting credit" for our every thought? Isn't this sort of thinking what has brought us this mess we call the copyright and patent system? Oh, wait, I seem to be getting off topic We should save that conversation for a whole different blog post...
I'm somewhat happy to say that my first effort at watching this video resulted in me stopping it about one minute in. I believe my exact words were something along the lines of, "Really? More of this crap?"
And then I stepped away from the computer and took my dogs for a walk.
RE: "then again, the message is about something greater than the messengers, don't you think? Must we always insist on "getting credit" for our every thought? Isn't this sort of thinking what has brought us this mess we call the copyright and patent system?"
As I see it, the message is the message, and the messengers are the messengers. Giving proper credit has little to do with the mess of copyright, and everything to do with maintaining one's credibility. Inaccuracies diminish the value of the resource, and the credibility of the folks who created it.
And call me crazy, but I would like to think that a textbook company would value fact-checking, and that CoSN, "the countryís premier voice for K-12 education leaders who use technology strategically to improve teaching and learning" (quote from the CoSN home page), would at least understand the value of accuracy and proper attribution.
As to CoSN understanding the "deeper issues", yes, I do expect that. Anything less does us all a disservice.
WRT the mess of copyright and patents (two entirely separate issues), CoSN could do a lot of good on the copyleft front by advocating more strongly for open content -- and that's something a CTO can understand from a cost savings perspective. The fact that CoSN and Pearson got together to create YAIANV (Yet Another It's About The Network Video) creates the appearance that CoSN is more concerned about maintaining an existing business paradigm than about improving education through an enlightened use of technology.
Of course CoSN understands the deeper issues, I never meant to suggest otherwise. What I did mean to suggest is that CTOs don't necessarily understand the deeper issues. This is why CoSN holds a variety training events and learning opportunities for CTOs on a regular basis. Thus, as I stated, the target audience was CTOs and the message was meant to inspire, not to train. I don't see the irresponsibility in that, especially considering the follow-up opportunities that are planned for the remainder of the year, which go far beyond that which most purveyors of inspirational video clips provide.
As for your remark on open-content, we're working on it, but, as I'm sure you are aware, open-content is a complex topic. We have done some research and put together a great article in the just-released CoSN compendium (free to CoSN members) on open-content and Creative Commons and are working to integrate more open content related resources into the K12opentech.org site. We'd welcome any help from innovative technologists in that area.
I'd love to see the whitepaper CoSN created, but I'm not a CoSN member. Are there any plans to release it under a CC license as an open resource?
As to getting more open resources into the K12opentech.org site, I see the site is built in Drupal -- Feel free to get in touch. I'm familiar with Drupal. I have also done some work with open content -- I'd be glad to help out there as well.
Thanks for posting this video Chris.
The speakers talk of the learning that happens outside of school, through social networking, the email, the Facebook, the Twitter, the asynchronous and nearly-synchronous technologies. They enthused over the plethora of learning thatís obviously taking place through these avenues and thatís fine.
Heppel closed with ďthe death of education and the dawn of learningĒ. Well I had the latest release of Carl Sagan's baloney detector working when I heard that, for itís not learning that it is about. Kids learn. They do this from the instant they are born. There is nothing new about that. Neither is it about how kids learn.
Education, while itís still with us, is about what kids learn; the knowledge; the skills; the higher learning skills. I didnít hear much said about how technology was supposed to help with any of that in the video.
I'm reminded of a quote: "The radicalism of the 60s has become the common sense of the 70s." (Jane Fonda, believe it or not. )-- And now it happens again. It happens with every generation, with every wave of reform: the revolutionary ideas that at first shock and titillate the world gradually take on a reputation as "cool" and new, adopted and embraced by anyone who wants to appear fresh and innovative, in spite of the fact that they are not. Pearson represents the conventional status quo, now trying to wear miniskirts and fit in with its teenaged kids, and I'll give the corporation some credit for recognizing and acknowledging the changing real world outside the classroom. But the adoption of "radical" ideas by Big Daddy too often waters down the original thought rather than fueling it into new life.
The idea of technology integration is not new anymore, but as your blog entry points out, it is much more complex and challenging than any 5-minute pep rally video can ever portray. We need to progress carefully and thoughtfully, not fueled by excitement, but by deliberate design. The biggest question we need to ask in politics and education is the word HOW? and too often, it is overlooked. It's much flashier and impressive to pontificate in lofty phrases to answer WHY? It stirs people up, rouses their passions .... but it never inspires them to roll up their sleeves and get started, because it fails to outline a plan.
I don't have an easy answer, but I'm inspired by the county public school system where I'm employed (Chesterfield County, Virginia). As a team of 55 technology integrators, we are divided by grade level and content area to visit 62 schools to create and model lessons, train teachers, and bring fresh life into the curriculum -- but we admit that bringing technology into the classroom is not enough! Our focus is on content. First of all, we were all hired as master teachers whose experience was proven successful in the classroom (for example, I'm a Nationally Board Certified Teacher). Each of us specializes in a grade level and in a specific content area -- we can cross curriculums to help teachers when necessary, but we try to focus on our own content area. We know what the teachers need to teach, we know how most of our students think and the best ways for them to learn, and we ask our teachers to describe their own style of teaching and their own concerns for their students. THEN we add technology as only one of many tools for learning. (It isn't unusual for us to tell a teacher that for some of the material s/he needs to teach, technology is not the best fit. Conventional methods still work in some situations.) When we do bring technology into a classroom, we've experienced tremendous success engaging the students and widening the teacher's repertoire of teaching strategies. In Virginia, students are tested in SOLs (standards of learning), which are mandated by the state for every content area. Using technology, we can often incorporate many of these SOLs in one project. Here is an example (5:40 video) of one of these projects:
Chesterfield County's model of technology integration is only six years old and still emerging, still forming. We have much to learn and we are inspired, but we're determined to take it one step at a time. Your blog brings out many important questions. We need to temper the fever to just throw technology into the mix like graffiti on a building -- without careful design, it will just be another blight on the landscape.
Good post and much to be learned in the comments as well. I'd like to expand on your point that "... we must learn why the progressive school movement lost to the factory model as the dominant educational model in America ..."
I'm not sure I would put it that way. One of the main reasons that we got our education system was because two opposing groups (progressives & industrial capitalists) agreed on the need for public schools. However, each group saw the result as quite different (Dewey's learning communities vs Prussian-style academies). Today we live with both competing foundations of public schooling dualing it out.
The same situation seems to be at play here. We have corporations (purely profit-motivated by law) and educational reformers agreeing on the need to use network technologies to support learning. However, there are significant differences, especially around copyright, as has been mentioned. We should be very careful in choosing our allies in educational reform or we will get another public education system based on opposing visions and beliefs, to the detriment of students.
Thanks for raising these important issues.
I am sorry this video has been taken down before I got a chance to see it. This is always awkward, because people want to remove stuff that becomes controversial, but then it ends up limiting the dialog which can be very helpful and useful.
I think people have to remember that all tech is only as useful as the people employing it; I got into as much trouble using pencils and paper to pass notes, play hangman in class etc. while in school, and we're foolish if we think people are fundamentally different now- How many billions of dollars in productivity were lost initially when Minesweeper was the rage on the early windows computers? Likewise, kids have got to learn about tech and learn to treat it as a tool. We have to help kids learn to use it responsibly, otherwise you end up with the Facebook Scandal from Horace Mann in NYC. http://nymag.com/news/features/45592/
School is about learning and socializing kids to norms; if we don't help them understand responsibility for their actions, and consequences for good and bad decision making, how do we ever think they'll be ready for these responsibilities as an adult?
I was so impressed by SLA and how the teachers have learned to not compete for attention with the computers, but to engage children in learning - engagement wins over entertainment any day of the week, but it's harder to do by far.
Why are so many educators so ready to embrace this naieve anti-capitalism? Is it morally wrong that Pearson is a 'multinational corporation'? Does a 60% rise in stock price also indicate evil? Guys, this is, er, the moral obligation that Pearson has towards the men and women who bought their stock. The stock market is one of the things that makes the technologies we now have possible. We're all capitalists and education benefits enormously because of it. (Have you seen the schools in the 3rd world/communist countries?)
I do agree that it is odd to see Pearson suddenly embrtace all this progressive thinking when their history has been something utterly different. But the same is true for all of us. Five years ago most of the people reading this could not have had seen what technology is enabling us to see now. Even capitalists can change their thinking.
I don't see it as a naive anti-capitalism. I see it as a healthy distrust. There's not much in Pearson's product line that suggests a movement to a more inquiry-driven, student-centered pedagogy. In fact, there's a great deal in their product line that suggests exactly the opposite.
So when their foundation produces a video with a pedagogy that seems to run counter to the philosophy of the company, I think it's cause for examination.
In the end, it's not merely the affiliation of the Pearson video that is cause for concern. There's, in my opinion, some naivete and anti-school rhetoric in the video that is more troubling than who made it.
What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media - Edited by Chris Lehmann and Scot McLeod
The Quote File
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little"