Doug Johnson, author of the Blue Skunk Blog, has some interesting posts yesterday and today about advocating for digital literacy MANDATES as part of No Child Left Behind. He quotes Don Knezek’s (ISTE CEO) eWeek article on 2006 edtech policy wishes. Doug contends (among other things):
Information and technology skills will not be taught (even at a rudimentary level) by all teachers to all kids until they are mandated, by either the state or feds.
This IS a key educational policy and reform issue: How can we bring about broad-scale, positive changes in classrooms around the nation and the world? But I have a counter-cultural response for Doug and anyone else who cares to read/listen: More standards and stricter accountability are NOT the answers to the educational challenges we face!!! Digital literacy is not all we need to promote in the classroom– good teaching and learning led by empowered educational artists are the real keys. Digital literacy is just part of that equation.
My posts from July 11th and August 16th advocating for “educational deregulation” touch on these issues, as does my podcast from December 31st. If you read many entries in my blog or listen to my podcast, you know I am a vocal advocate for digital literacy– I share much of the passion and endgame desires of both Doug Johnson and Don Knezek. My differences with both of them, however, are based primarily on MEANS rather than ENDS.
Summarized, let me say this: Our current educational policy trends have been undeniably in the directions of increased standards and increased accountability. Yes, we all want teacher expectations of student performance to improve, and the actual knowledge and skills students acquire and refine in schools to get even better. But more government regulations which lead to even greater pressure and stress on students and teachers is NOT the answer.
What kind of school do you want your own children or grandchildren attending? I guarantee for me, it is not one that is freaking out about preparing students to take tests. I want teachers who are passionately differentiating the curriculum to challenge students and stretch them beyond their own expectations. Of course we want our students to learn how to think more critically, be better communicators, develop their own creativity, and learn how to ASK GOOD QUESTIONS as well as they can provide answers to someone else’s questions. But how do we get students to do that? I guarantee the answer is not through giving teachers even more curricular mandates, and making students take yet more tests.
Have you read “How Children Fail” by John Holt? He taught in the 1950s, but much of what he wrote is still so applicable to us today. Consider the following quotation, which I included in my TCEA presentation from last year, “Luddite Literacy: Digital Tools or Toys for the 21st Century Classroom?”:
Practically everything we do in school tends to make children answer-centered. In the first place, right answers pay off. Schools are a kind of temple of worship for “right answers.” and the way to get ahead is to lay plenty of them on the altar. In the second place, the chances are good that teachers themselves are answer centered, certainly in mathematics, but by no means only there. What they do, they do because this is what they were or are told to do, or what the book says to do, or what they have always done. In the third place, even those teachers who are not themselves answer-centered will probably not see, as for many years I did not, the distinction between answer-centerness and problem-centeredness, far less understand its importance. Thus their ways of teaching children, and, above all, the sheer volume of work they give them, will force children into answer-directed strategies, if only because there isn’t time for anything else. I have noticed many times that when the workload of the class is light, kids are willing to do some thinking, to take time to figure things out: when the workload is heavy, the “I-don’t-get-it” begins to sound, the thinking stops, they expect us to show them everything. Thus one ironical consequence of the drive for so-called higher standards in schools is that the children are too busy to think.
We need educational deregulation, my friends, not more regulation. I am not declaring myself a libertarian with this statement, merely a member of the Luddite Literati.
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On this day..
- Why Scratch Club? - 2013
- Temporarily Copy Offline YouTube Videos to Your iPad - 2012
- Claim Your Online Content With Google+ Authorship Settings - 2012
- Misleading Article About Oklahoma Lottery Funds Supplanting Education Funds - 2012
- The Power of Social Media Supporting Collaboration and Creativity: #popupschool at #cwf2010 - 2011
- WordPress Plugins for Database Maintenance and Plugin Listing - 2010
- Harry Potter Whiteboard Wands, Responders, and the Palm Pre - 2009
- The MegaVCR: Media and More in Your Pocket - 2007
- Simple Podcasting on a Global Scale - 2007
- Engaging Brains Through Games and Simulations by Bernie Dodge - 2007