Did y’all see this bit in yesterday’s #edtech Smartbrief?
It details the plight of the Decatur County Schools, who are facing huge cuts in Federal eRate funding in the next five years. The results, according to Larry Clark — principal at Jones Wheat Elementary School — will be devastating. “Technology is the up and going thing for our kids to learn and the best way for them to learn,” argues Clark, “and they really, really enjoy the technology aspect.”
Can you spot my beef with Clark’s thinking?
Perhaps most importantly, technology is NOT “the best way” for our kids to learn. The best way for kids to learn is through powerful studies of real-world causes that leave them motivated to master core outcomes and expectations while taking action in their communities. The best way for kids to learn is through studies of topics that have deeply personal meaning and that leave them challenged.
The best way for kids to learn is through constant conversations with peers, with kids in other classes and in other countries, and with supportive and caring adults who recognize misconceptions and can point out new avenues for continued study. The best way for kids to learn is by providing learning experiences that are customized and targeted towards the strengths and weaknesses of individuals instead of whole groups.
I think what I’m trying to say is principals and superintendents should STOP spending money on technology.
Instead, principals and superintendents should commit themselves to spending money creating classrooms that are dynamic and outward facing and differentiated and personalized and committed to developing kids who can imagine and innovate and experiment and act.
Can technology support efforts to integrate these kinds of core behaviors into the work that we do in our schools? Absolutely. In fact the best lessons in my room — whether we are microlending, raising awareness about sugars in foods, or fighting back against bullying — are almost always supported by technology.
But the best lessons depend FIRST on schools and systems that develop clarity around just what meaningful teaching and learning experiences look like in action.
Author’s note: Much of this thinking was inspired by a conversation that I had this week with Ron Rizzo — a new friend who also happens to be the Interim Director of the Charter School Office at Ferris State University. #goodfella
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