Public schools continuously change to keep up with progress. Technology has much to offer. But the idea that instruction should be disrupted using technology is putting students and the country at risk. It destroys the public school curriculum that has managed to educate the masses for decades.
Disruption is a troubling word when referring to public schooling.
Gradual change works better with students. Schools should be warm places where students can positively interact with other children and caring adults. Changes implemented gradually are more comfortable for teachers and students.
Technology is a helpful tool, but it won’t provide that sense of stability. It’s a cold machine. School districts push technology over teachers. They don’t stop to think about what it will mean to children and their development.
We don’t know what the future effects of technology will be. How will students learn what they need for college and career when they’ve experienced little but online instruction?
Most people recognize that continuous screen use is problematic. Transforming public schools to where students face even more online time all day makes little sense.
Early childhood teachers express concern that tech is invading preschool education. We know that free play is the heart of learning.
But programs, like Waterford Early Learning, advertise online instruction including assessment for K-2. Their Upstart program advertises, At-home, online kindergarten readiness program that gives 4- and 5-year-old children early reading, math, and science lessons.
Technology is directed towards babies too! What will it mean to a child’s development if they stare at screens instead of picture books?
Defending the Early Years recently introduced a toolkit to help parents of young children navigate the use of technology with children. “Young Children in the Digital Age: A Parent’s Guide,” written by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., describes the kinds of learning experiences that will help them develop to be curious, engaged learners. Here is the link.
One of the first books to push digital disruption was Clayton M. Christensen’s, Michael B. Horn’s, and Curtis W. Johnson’s Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.
They describe a Virtual ChemLab serving 150,000 students across the country. How does this personalize learning? The Virtual ChemLab allows students to try experiments that would be too costly or too dangerous to do at their local high schools. Don’t students need to do some experiments related to chemistry under the watchful and safe direction of a competent chemistry instructor?
How to incorporate digital learning into the classroom is a huge question and one that demands study. Parents need to be included with discussions about technology.
As a teacher in the ’90s, I learned how to use the Internet. The media specialists (librarians) at my school taught us during a professional development class. The instruction showed us how to use technology as a supplement to our lessons. Teachers were still in control.
Today’s disruptive tech agenda teaches teachers to reduce their teaching role in favor of digital learning. Technology rules! Teachers remain on the sidelines.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a tech enthusiast, describes this transforming role of technology. He wants technology to be the “core of learning.”
Bush praises the marketplace. He believes children will learn better working online, studying a prescribed group of skills.
But children learn better with a variety of approaches. Technology leaves out critical social skills, and the existing tech programs don’t have proven track records.
Technology for students homebound or living in rural areas may provide coursework, but even that is not better than a teacher in a classroom.
He also makes a lot of baseless claims that tech will change the world for the better. There is no proof of this. A world with so much technology is frightening to most people. It raises serious questions about how we will relate to each other.
Bush is of course not alone in his unbridled belief in technology. Little is being done to curtail this public school experiment. But transforming public schooling into all-tech without teachers is a dramatic change.
School districts should carefully monitor the use of technology in schools. It’s pushed to replace the curriculum too quickly with the idea that disruption is best. It’s not.
Disruption is not a positive word to use with public schools and students.
Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson. Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. (New York: McGraw-Hill Companies) p. 105.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D. “Young Children in the Digital Age: A Parent’s Guide.” Defending the Early Years.