Our words matter

I came across a valiant post that yet again argued the need to include technology in our schools.  While the points made are valid, they miss the most fundamental problems of schooling – student and teacher beliefs about learning and teaching.  If we do not alter our fundamental beliefs, new technologies will simply be implemented in ways that maintain the status quo. Below is the comment I left for the author.

Interesting that your “new” picture is a picture of a traditional lecture hall that has been superficially made more glitzy by the infusion of technology.  Not once in your post did you indicate the need for a new way to conceptualize teaching.  Instead, you imply that using technology is a goal rather than a means to the end: learning.

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6 Responses to Our words matter

  1. crudbasher says:

    Yes yes yes! If adding technology doesn’t change the pedagogy then it makes no difference. It’s just making a more efficient factory. We don’t need a factory anymore!! Great observation!


  2. pjhiggins says:

    (I don’t know where this conversation will get legs, but why not have it in as many places as possible)

    Here is my response to your comment:


    Thanks for your comment, and for reminding me why I enjoy this practice so much: pushback.

    You could not be more correct, the picture used to characterize the “new” model is not the strongest indicator of any real, substantial change in education, but rather used more to show the move from print-based learning to something that could be much different. It does need to be changed.

    The key there is the “could be.” What we see now, in the face of huge digital initiatives, all too often is what Prensky referred to as doing “old things in new ways.” I would much rather see “new things in new ways,” myself. In no way have I ever pushed for a continuation of the status quo.

    What didn’t truly come across as clearly as I’d hoped in the post, but was the focus in the session was that of the need to have conversations about exactly as you point out in your post: the very nature of what people believe about teaching and learning. Schools, and communities in the larger sense, need to come to an understanding about what they truly believe about learning before they can create what they imagine. Those conversations are the ones that we are undoubtedly not having enough of.

    Thanks for pushing this further.


    • jerridkruse says:

      Yes, as I went through your slide show I could tell you were getting to deeper issues. I agree with your “new things in new ways”. This is so very important, but does not necessarily require digital technologies. I believe we ought use digital technologies, but not because they are what students will use, but because they aid in achieving the learning goal. My main point, and title of my post on my blog, was that our words matter. Our dialogue too easily slips into “technology will fix education” and if teachers and other educators slip into such a view, imagine how easily politicians and special interests will jump on that language and use it against us.


      • pjhiggins says:

        Point taken, and I truly see the benefit in being very clear about our goals as school leaders. Also, I believe this is a uniquely local decision for communities as to how they educate their children. Technologies make it very easy to open doors and transform learning, but only in the hands of those that truly understand the transformative abilities.

        Otherwise we end up following the hackneyed expression “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”


  3. Pingback: Lesson Learned « Chalkdust101

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