Once upon a time, I was a teacher heavily invested in educational technology and non-traditional teaching methods to reach students that our traditional education system often disregards, purposely overlooks, and does leave behind, or should I say often — ignores. While I learned you can’t reach all students, you can reach many more than we historically have.
That changed this morning.
He was in Maine visiting innovative schools and unexpectedly contacted me to meet for breakfast. We had one of the most enjoyable breakfasts I’ve had in a long time, and of course, the conversation led to talking about education. While I’m not in education anymore, I do sort of keep abreast of things, and it was fun to sit and talk about something that I’m still passionate about with someone who knows a helluva lot more about it than I ever will.
I left that world in 2011, and while I do miss being a teacher, I would never go back to the classroom in today’s world. I left teaching for health reasons, but also because I was frustrated with the direction towards standards-based curriculums and test/measure everything mentality that educational leadership and politicians were instituting.
For too many students, the industrial, corporate, and political model of how “school” should be, is still alive and continues to not do all that well in today’s world. The model where kids go into buildings that look like factories, have a structured day like factory workers ahead of them, sit in their respective classes and get information presented to them. Then do that for 7-8 hours a day.
There are too many parents, politicians, and even educators who while wanting the best education possible for kids (especially their kids), have difficulty seeing how new teaching methods or models can be as effective as the education they had when they were younger. The viewpoint or fantasy for many of go to school, work hard, get good grades, fill your portfolio, get into a good college, and boom you find success now that you have finished schooling.
After all, they went to school and were successful in what I call the factory model of education and those who were successful in the present model are often the ones who are now in leadership positions.
They also tend to forget about all those kids in their classes over the years who weren’t successful in that factory model of education and were left behind. What would have happened if there were different educational paths available to many of those kids? Would they have developed differently, and how different would their lives have been?
Sadly, since I left education in 2011, from things I read and talking to others still in education, I tend believe not a lot has changed, though there are some exceptions.
Scott did give me hope for the future of education when he talked about some of the amazing things, he saw at multiple innovative schools he was privileged to visit over the past few months. At the same time, I also realize that these innovative schools won’t be duplicated and mainstreamed in today’s educational and political climate.
So, I don’t believe too much will change any time soon. But I am hopeful that the next generation’s better grasp of today’s and tomorrow’s technology, along with forthcoming Artificial Intelligence advances will force educators and maybe even some politicians to accept that change is necessary for their student’s benefit more than keeping the status quo is for theirs.
Change will happen, that is the only thing that is certain. Technology will continue to progress at exponential rates that will make possibilities a reality regardless of what some might think or want.
The reality is that
While I’m sure Scott and others often feel like Don Quixote and that they are tilting at windmills when it comes to education’s progress over the last decade. I’m thankful that there are educators like him out there attempting to show that there are other ways to educate children that can bring trust and a love for learning back into schools. Even for some of the most difficult kiddos that so often in today’s educational model fall through the cracks or are pushed out the back door, so they can become someone else’s problem child.
At some point in education, with the advances in technology being made, there will come a time when our children have the opportunity for more self-directed learning and be able to show that they can learn. It’s just that many of them and even us older students might do it differently than the old sit and get model of 8-3 factory education.
Good luck, Scott. Your vision of education is the future, and while neither of us will probably ever see it widely adopted, I want to believe that your efforts are steps towards that dream. Even as technology moves us (some kicking and screaming for how it used to be), in directions we only thought possible in science fiction not that many years ago.
Yeah, this old educator still thinks and cares about the future of education even though I haven’t had anything to do with a classroom in too many years. I just hope that I did something positive while I was a teacher and that the kiddos were able to take something from my classroom and use it beyond school.
Scott, you did bring back some memories of people and days gone by that I hadn’t thought about in too many years and it was great to meet you in person after so many years.
There are many challenges in education these days.
It used to be copy/paste and Wikipedia, now it is AI at everyone’s fingertips.
My wife is a HS bio teacher and is planning to adjust how she works.
Kids may have to have oral exams to defend their papers. Some are so well written, that if they really did write them they should be able to demonstrate mastery of the subject through answering a few questions.
And exams may have more short answer questions and few multiple choice.
Kids just don’t understand the dis-service they do to themselves by relying on software to do their work and thinking.
Will they understand how word usage and placement in a sentence can change meaning? Will they learn to learn, or do they only need to learn how to use AI?
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It’s scary to think how little some of them will think or know how to write without their AI doing the work for them. He who controls the AI in the future might just control a lot more. The more machines think for us, how much less we will think.
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