Monday, June 18, 2012

The technology mistake: Confusing access to information with becoming educated

The Washington Post
Post Local
The Answer Sheet, by Valerie Strauss
Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 06/18/2012

This was written by Larry Cuban, a former high school social studies teacher (14 years, including seven at Cardozo and Roosevelt high schools in the District), district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, VA) and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His latest book is “As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.” This appeared on his blog.

By Larry Cuban
“There won’t be schools in the future …. I think the computer will blow up the school. That is, the school defined as something where there are classes, teachers running exams, people structured in groups by age, following a curriculum—all of that…. But this will happen only in communities of children who have access to computers on a sufficient scale.”

That’s Seymour Papert, cognitive scientist and designer of software application Logo, writing in 1984 about dramatic changes in schooling with the advent of the desktop computer. Nearly 30 years later, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke at the Association of American Publishers Annual Meeting in 2010 on the national plan for technology. “We have the opportunity to completely reform our nation’s schools. We’re not talking about tinkering around the edges here. We’re talking about a fundamental re-thinking of how our schools function and placing a focus on teaching and learning like never before.”
Claims about the power of new electronic devices to “revolutionize” schooling are a dime a dozen. Yet, if they are nearly worthless, why have smart people said them over and over again?
The answer is deeply embedded in American culture: a love affair with technology as the elixir of everlasting improvement in all things personal and institutional. In the past quarter-century, quasi-miraculous changes have occurred in communication, information accessibility, business and commercial activities, combat operations, medical diagnosis and treatment, and so many other activities. Why not schooling?
Read more HERE.

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