Why the (__noun__) won’t save/revolutinize education

We’ve all heard how (__noun__) will save/revolutionize education. But unfortunately, it’s not going to have the expected impact. Some may use (__noun_) in an exciting, creative way, and will be able to say that their students are engaged at a new level. But many implementations of (__noun__) will be thoughtless, with opportunities for even minor impact buried under a host of systemic issues that can’t be solved by going shopping.

  • Schools will adopt (__noun__) without a vision of what to do with it
  • Schools will purchase (__noun__) without really thinking about how it fits into the current infrastructure, much less a new way of doing things
  • Schools will assume that (__noun__) changes things – but will not set aside the time for the participants in the change process to actually decide what “change” is or to plan and implement new processes that support it

What happens next?

  • Blame teachers and students
  • Look for other things to purchase that makes (__noun__) “work” in the classroom. Vendors will be all too happy to supply more stuff to buy
  • Do more “training” on (__noun__)
  • Search for the next new (__noun__)

I find it odd that the phrases “save education” and “revolutionize education” are used nearly interchangeably in the current public discourse about education. Aren’t they really in opposition? Save implies that things don’t change all that much, that the system just needs some sprucing up to get things back to the mythical way they used to be. And what does revolutionize mean other than re-creating everything?

But whether you believe that education needs radical change or minor course correction, a “thing” won’t make that happen. Only people will – the people at the heart of the system, teachers, parents, and students.

Sylvia

7 Replies to “Why the (__noun__) won’t save/revolutinize education”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. Regardless of the current “noun”, the phrase “that is what good teachers have always done” soon follows. What I find amazing is that this recognition comes as some sort of epiphany. In the same vein, no “noun” can make up for bad teaching.

  2. So often the purchase is done in a frenzy of euphoria about the new promise of *noun*. While sometimes you do need to experiment and to “buy first, sort out the use as we go…”, you still always need a vision of what you want the *noun* to help you achieve. Vision and purpose must always be at the centre of any purchase – even if you don’t yet know exactly what the best way to use the trial *noun* when you first use it…

  3. Nice points. As our district has been looking to go 1-to-1, we have tried to be device agnostic, not basing our discussion or decisions on one device. Still, there many times when the “__noun__” slips into conversation, depending on which noun camp someone is currently in. I can see how difficult it is to make decisions about 1-to-1 without a device, but I also sometimes feel like 1-to-1 is our “noun”. It has become that because it is the placeholder in which many our hopes for the future of technology has been placed. I still feel that we are acting appropriately and truly thinking out the plan, not just jumping into it, but if we have trouble containing our excitement about certain nouns and we are purposefully containing our excitement, what happens to districts who cannot quell the urge to use the next big NOUN?

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