08 December 2010

Time to Grow Up

I'm a firm believer that adults are responsible for shaping classroom instruction. This does not mean that students are excused from learning or should have no voice in getting what they need to reach that goal. But at the end of the day, educators and parents need to provide direction and support to students.

If you've been around this space awhile, you know that I don't think kids should be used as teaching tools. Struggling students need the expertise that comes with a teacher's understanding of how to break down tasks, alternative curriculum materials, and other supports. Other students need direction in how to extend and deepen their knowledge. None of this is new, but I am seeing a different sort of variant these days: Let the kids be the experts for tech integration.

Like the online safety considerations mentioned in my previous post, a lot of the "Aw, just let the kids teach it" mindframe comes from adults abdicating their responsibilities. Since kids know how to text message, why should I bother to learn? Google? Kid stuff. Blogs? Wikis? Too weird sounding---not my thing. Technology is changing too fast...I can't keep up.

I will say that "technology" is fairly diverse. I'm not a luddite, but I am definitely no expert on all the tools (both hardware and software) that are out there. I choose to be ignorant of most things Apple related because I don't agree with their form of censorship...but I can use a Mac (if I have to). When I do presentations involving cell phones, I am invariably asked for help with phones I have never seen before---and often struggle with. I do think it's a benefit to the classroom to have students who have backgrounds with a variety of tools so that they can help troubleshoot (or show new tricks and hacks). I don't have any issue with drawing upon that sort of expertise from students in the classroom.

I draw the line (again) at pedagogy. When we assume that students are ready to decide how the technology serves the learning goals of others in the room, I have a problem. If you're the teacher, then you need to provide that guidance. Again, it doesn't mean you have to know every thing about every tool---but do choose two or three and learn them well. Kids can help other kids troubleshoot, but you need to make the decisions about the classroom purpose for using them.

No comments: