In her recent post “MySpace and Abstinence,” Stephanie Sandifer from Houston draws parallels between schools not teaching kids about safe sex in the hope it will encourage them to not engage in sex at all, and banning social networking sites like MySpace in the hope students won’t use them. Her point on rejecting fear is excellent:
I think its time for the adults to stop letting our fear win — it’s time for the adults to step-up to the plate and teach our kids how to use the Internet in safe and responsible ways because it is a part of our life and much like the sidewalk that they must walk down to get to school, the Internet will continue (and increasingly) be the path that our students will take to gather information and to communicate with friends, family, co-workers, and business associates.
This message is a “hard sell” to educators, however, with liability concerns (that Stephanie acknowledges) not the least of their concerns. Schools are technocratic, top-down, static institutions which generally do not value change, innovation, or creativity. As Marco Torres reminded me today in El Paso, most administrators are promoted based on their longevity in a district and if they haven’t rocked the boat. Risk takers, including those who embrace disruptive technologies, tend to get the cold shoulder or get rejected out of hand rather than encouraged, empowered, and championed by school boards and superintendents.
Schools need to change in basic ways, and one of those ways likely has to do with school governance. The system itself simply does not reward innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. We need more charter schools in public school districts, but if administrators are evaluated on the time-honored standards it is likely results won’t be all that different for teachers.
The current issue of Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine has a great article on Empire school in Vail, Arizona, which does not have any textbooks: all the curriculum is digital. The principal is quoted as saying the decision to NOT purchase textbooks was pivotal in helping create an engaged learning environment that is fundamentally different than that found in most traditional schools.
What model of school governance could our educational system embrace that would support dynamical, constructive change instead of boring and ineffective stasis? Marco says educators have three options: to quit, to complain, or to innovate. Sadly, too many of our teachers are opting for doors 1 and 2. How can we get not only our teachers, but our ADMINISTRATORS to opt for door number 3? It’s the door our students want our good teachers to choose.
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On this day..
- QR Codes on Conference Bookmark Handout - 2012
- Thank You Teachers (Teacher Appreciation Week Message) - 2011
- Visually Capturing Stress in the White House During SEAL Operations Against Bin Laden - 2011
- Ning announces new pricing structure - Implications for Storychasers - 2010
- Quickly publish student writing with WordPress and iPadio (no-edit podcasts) - 2010
- Celebration of Collaboration - 2007
- Online science activities - 2006