This blast from my past kept rolling through my mind over the last several days.I kept feeling like what I was seeing and hearing was completely disconnected from what I hope the reality of education will be. I've been at meetings on behalf of the state since Thursday, listening to not only what others are doing, but what various vendors are providing. All of them are very passionate about what they believe and knowledgeable about a variety of programs.
- One vendor promoted his company by remarking how schools would be able to get rid of their foreign language teachers. A colleague from another state nodded in agreement and added the idea of individualized instruction as a bonus. Is this really a plus---thinking that moving teachers out of the classroom is a good thing?
- I heard two vendors describe how you could plop your remedial math students in front of their computer program. And that made me sad. Not only do students need teachers, I think that the struggling ones are those who need personal relationships the most...who need the very best teacher they can get. Again, is moving teachers away from students really the goal we need to be pursuing?
- I am amazed at the push to put tools or digital content in teachers' hands, without ever including them in the conversations. One state described a 1-to-1 initiative that was rolled out in 6 months (just in time for the school year) and then complained about the struggles to get high school math teachers to integrate netbooks into instruction. You know, maybe a graphing calculator is really okay. It's sad to see the volume of money wasted on iPads. Not that these won't be good classroom tools at some point, but they just don't seem ready yet. The content format (print, digital) doesn't make a damned bit of difference if it doesn't match standards, student needs, and instructional purposes.
Please try again.