Essentially, my point is this:
TECHNOLOGY + POOR PEDAGOGY = ACCELERATED MALPRACTICEI often see teachers so enamored over technology that the appeal for it often trumps pedagogy, and so I think teachers who choose to share their resources have an obligation to share it mindfully. Alfie Kohn offers this:
Seymour Papert, known for his work on artificial intelligence, began one of his books by inviting us to imagine a group of surgeons and a group of teachers, both from a century ago, who are magically transported to the present day. The surgeons visit a modern operating room and struggle to understand what's going on, but the teachers feel right at home in today's schools. Kids, they discover, are still segregated by age in rows of classrooms; are still made to sit passively and listen (or practice skills) most of the time; are still tested and graded, rewarded or punished; still set against one another in contests and deprived of any real say about what they're doing.
Those tempted to point defensively to updates in the delivery system only end up underscoring how education is still about delivering knowledge to empty receptacles. In fact, snazzier technology -- say, posting grades or homework assignments on-line -- mostly serves to distract us from rethinking the pedagogy. Interactive whiteboards in classrooms amount to a 21st-century veneer on old-fashioned, teacher-centered instruction.
Take a look at Richard Byrne's YouTube video below on self-graded quizzes. Can you see how this is an example of what Kohn and Papert speak of? Can you see that using Google Docs in this manner is simply a 21st century veneer on sit-and-get-spit-and-forget, select a response assessments? Isn't this still about delivering knowledge to empty receptacles packaged as snazzy technology? I wonder what Seymour Papert would say about this video? Take a look for yourself...
Before I go into my pedagogical objections to such an assessment practice, let's read this comment left by Richard Byrne...
...preaching is not the intent of my blog. I'll leave that to others that I think are more qualified for that and to those who think they are qualified to preach. The ones that I think are qualified, I refer others to (some of those include Scott McLeod, Gary Stager, Chris Lehmann). Those that I don't think are qualified, I ignore.Since I didn't see my name on Richard Byrne's Pedagogy VIP list, I get the feeling that I, like many other people who are just teachers, will likely be ignored; so let's look at what some of these Pedagogical Heavy Hitters have to say about using technology in this manner:
We have to be careful not to let what should be a discussion centered around education become hijacked into a discussion about technology. Chris Lehman writes:
We should have a great debate in this country about education. Educational ideas are -- and should be -- controversial. The space between people like Alfie Kohn and Robert Marzano, between Deborah Meier and Ed Hirsch, could fill volumes. How we teach, what we teach, how we assess students... these ideas should be debated and discussed at dinner tables and PTA meetings across this country.
That's not the discussion we're having.
What is going on right now has little to do with education. We are having a labor debate masquerading as an education debate. And that's an important debate to have, but it's not really about education, and we should recognize that.
The conversation we should have is actually about education. Most high schools in this country are still structured off of the Taylor Scientific Method decades after business moved on. We still, in so many classrooms, put the desks in rows and put textbooks on the desks and expect learning to happen. In too many schools the innovations that have touched every other aspect of our society are absent. And in too many schools, the only thing that matters is how well students perform on someone else's test.
I say as both an educator and a parent -- we need a great debate about education in this country.Rather than talk about how Google Documents can save teachers time in perpetuating the status quo (creating and delivering select-a-response quizzes, then grading them based on one right answer and averaging the scores into percentages or letter grades) I would rather talk about how Google Docs can be used for real learning.
But that's hard to do if teachers wash their hands of their responsibility for being mindful of their pedagogical practices. Teachers can choose to blog or not to blog; they can choose to share or not to share, but I don't believe they can choose to ignore pedagogy. And because pedagogy should never be reserved for the elite, all teachers and all parents should engage in this discussion. If someone wants to create a blog that shares free technology with teachers and manages to get a Google Readership of 7,000 subscribers, and 11,000 followers on Twitter, they have a glorious opportunity to initiate and influence the education debate that Chris Lehmann speaks of above. However, such an opportunity can also become a crisis. In other words, Alfie Kohn puts it this way:
To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent.