Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chapter 2 vs 3

'Our kids are digital natives-they learn best through technology'

                                                       'Out with the old and in with the new' 

Above is something American citizens find themselves doing daily. We throw out the empty water bottle only to open another one, we break up with our romantic partners only to seek someone else, we trash our televisions because they are so easy to replace, thus the out with the old in with the new. 

However, what if one were to apply this age old saying to something more substantial. Applied to something that ought to not be thrown away. What if someone tried to apply 'out with the old and in with the new' to education. 

With the advent and widespread usage of computers schools are finding that they ought to begin incorporating the technology as it will most likely prove advantageous for them. Research shows that many of today's students do a multitude of their learning and growing outside of school and on the computer, as it is something they are most comfortable with. Students use the computer for entertainment and contact, why not use it for learning? 

It can be frightening to think of the changes that computers (etc.) bring to the classroom, however with the United States falling behind in international testing one would think that a monumental change such as the inclusion of computers etc. in the classroom would be warmly welcomed. 

Unfortunately, just as there are many proponents to the inclusion of new technology into classrooms there are many opponents as well.  Since the mid-1990s, the average retirement age has risen from 62 to 64 for men and from 60 to 62 for women, according to a new Center for Retirement Research at Boston College analysis of Census Bureau data, thus the average age of teachers continues to grow. 
Having said that, one ought to assume that teachers past a certain age, just like in any other profession, will opt towards not changing their teaching style etc. Which leads to the potential block of the inclusion of new technology. In Chapter 3 of the assigned reading the comparison is made of the inclusion of computers etc. in the classroom to the inclusion of a new curriculum for teachers to follow. The comparison looks to say that while many teachers are uncomfortable with the any curriculum change (as it affects their daily teaching) they would be similarly uncomfortable with technology changes (pencil and paper to keyboard and mouse). 

However, simply because most teachers would find themselves uncomfortable with the available resources doesn't mean they shouldn't be used. That's just silly. It would be similar to a teacher not using a style of textbook even though it would greatly benefit his or her students. One word, ADAPT, get used to new things, if it helps the education process then it helps you as a teacher. 

The idea that we are preparing students for their future, not our past (even though I am currently in, I believe, the same generation as my students) is something every teacher and administrator ought to take seriously. 

It's interesting, on the first day of school I found myself assisting in passing out history books to students in the classroom I was assigned to. While doing so, I thought to myself 'what am I doing? This is so barbaric, so outdated, so 1950's. This is not how I learn, this is not how I would  even want to TRY and learn.' Being a graduate student I enjoy learning very much, and even I would be turned off if my teacher handed me a thick textbook to carry around full of facts surrounded by useless filler info. With that said, how can teachers expect students who may be on the fence about working hard in school to make the decision positively given the circumstances. 

Technology, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. have not only changed my means of acquiring information, it has changed my mind-set and opinion about the acquisition as well. The big fat history book struck me as simply the wrong way to reach today's kids. 

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