Bob Cringely of PBS (thanks Keith) recently wrote something that resonated with me. His was one of those articles you find every once in a while that helps your mind coalesce scattered fragments of thought and helps to give clarity to an important idea. He begins:
There is a technology war coming. Actually it is already here but most of us haven’t yet notice. It is a war not about technology but because of technology, a war over how we as a culture embrace technology. It is a war that threatens venerable institutions and, to a certain extent, threatens what many people think of as their very way of life. It is a war that will ultimately and inevitably change us all, no going back. The early battles are being fought in our schools. And I already know who the winners will be.
Now without reading the article, do you know what he is talking about? Do you see it? If you are reading this, you are likely closer than most of your colleagues to understanding it. Now read this:
Here, buried in my sixth paragraph, is the most important nugget: we’ve reached the point in our (disparate) cultural adaptation to computing and communication technology that the younger technical generations are so empowered they are impatient and ready to jettison institutions most of the rest of us tend to think of as essential, central, even immortal. They are ready to dump our schools.
Now read it again. The idea has been an underlying notion in the edublogosphere for a number of years, and of course, it has a much longer philosophical history. Whether the approach is schooliness, deschooling or School 2.0, I do not think we are anywhere near in understanding what the future holds for the education of our children, and theirs.
And I think there is something big here for me. After reading this article, it wasn’t that I was surprised. I felt guilty. Really guilty. As a professor of edtech and media, i have the opportunity to effect hundreds of preservice and practicing teachers. I have typically focused on helping improve technological competency, media literacy and instructional practice with these individuals. This seems OK, doesn’t it?
But what if you know it is just a band-aid? What if you know deep down that schools need to change drastically or cease to exist at all before there will ever be any significant change? What if you feel you are just prolonging the inevitable, and simply giving temporary life to a model that is clearly in its death throes?
It is about honesty. It is about being truthful to our students about the flaws of our educational system. It is essential that we open a dialogue with our children to help them design their educational processes. Together we can do more than simply patch the existing system, and we need to do it soon.
The walls are crumbling, but it’s OK. The future is in good hands.
Related: While you are here, check out Mr. Winkle Wakes, “an amusing, animated retelling of a popular educational story”. Thanks Matthew, this is a nice conversation starter.