I was sent a link by a friend to to a blog post. The post is about changing education. Great. Unfortunately all of the suggestions except one are tech based. Here is the comment I left. It may not be on the site yet as the moderation process might still be in progress. I was probably a bit rude, but no one can accuse me of not being honest :)
I absolutely agree that sustainable change will likely happen incrementally. Also, some people say we need to completely abandon the “old model”. In some respects they are right, but oftentimes the “new model” leave just as many students uncomfortable as the old one. Instead, we need to create flexibility within our classes.
Now, on to your “tech suggestions”. None of those things actually leads to increased thinking except the last one that has nothing to do with technology. Really? powerpoint? Open online communication channels? How about in-class communication channels? The way you’ve made your suggestions makes clear that you believe technology use is the answer. Unfortunately, technology can be used to reinforce old ways of doing anything. Actually, technology usually does so – google is a trivia engine. Why? Because our schools have valued trivia for so long. Instead of focusing on technology, focus on student thinking. Where we focus is what we value. Too many people value technology and implicitly devalue student thinking.
Now, i know you’re going to say “Oh, but the technology can be used to get students’ thinking”. No, give a kid a laptop and they go to facebook and chat with friends. Teachers need to inspire, encourage, and facilitate. A computer won’t do that. And if you wanted to focus on student thinking, you should have.
Now, your last suggestion: “Begin each week by challenging the class with one genuine question or problem that asks for a little research”. Hell YES!!! But I’d be ok with requiring a little thinking as well as a little research. Oh, and there is no requirement for technology to achieve this goal. Sure tech would be nice, but it is NOT required.