From the last blog post:
The trend (of education) is promising and it's not necessarily about computer labs in antique classrooms or taped lectures with bad audio, it's about Alex, Eve and John hammering away, absorbing, self-educating (what a great skill!), gathering and making information on their own steam. Availability of education may become democratized if we can support viable, online, non-traditional educational opportunities.
In a classroom the kid who makes noise, sasses the teacher, defaces property, and/or otherwise diverts the standardized goal of education is known as disruptive. But disruption is just a word, and in the art of language, context is everything.
Industry and technology often mention disruption; steam and steel were disruptive to sail, cell phones overtake plain old telephones (pots), dsl emaciated dial-up, subscription television hammers away at broadcast, on-demand television (aka IPTV) might disrupt traditional, sponsored media (please hurry!), power mowers temporarily derailed goats, SMS and Facebook are biting at email's ankles (even voice!).
Not many of us will quarrel with disruption when it falls in our favor, we call that progress. When disruption might cause pain, even if temporary, knee jerk reactionaries might call it anarchy or unnecessary. When old laws no longer serve the public good they might be disrupted by new ones (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009), assuming our career politicians and/or the Supreme Court possess independence and spine (yes, at the same time).
Even though disruption often upsets the status quo it's no less natural than washing away dead skin. Disruption can be process rather than deliberate trouble-making, a movement from what works (because it seems convenient and/or working well enough) to something new, perceived as better until something disruptive or better comes along again, and so the cycle goes.
Technology and the Information Age are accelerating wildly. We're subject to new and growing challenges, so we should be in a new, collective, bad-a**ed hurry. Old assumptions must give way to new (radical?) approaches before our species and/or planet crumble and/or die. Fantasy and fiction must give way to truth, self-serving authoritarian regimes must be disrupted by humanism (or so goes my geopolitical fantasy). Disruption isn't necessarily a process of arbitrary replacement, it's the process that enables society, technology and methodology to renew and improve.
Of course we are humans, and none would claim that opportunism is absent from our psyche. Opportunistic disruptive efforts take aim at flawed ideas and attempt to disrupt for short term gain; thieves steal grandma's purse, shale gas is forced from underground traps and promoted as alternative fuel (although it's only another form of burning), electric/hybrid cars promulgate the illusion that coal derived electricity and battery manufacturing is planet friendly while ignoring the really disruptive alternative (renewable energy), big banks (not our local ones) devalue our precious personal resources with complicated schemes (technology based and virtually instantaneous) that are difficult or impossible to trace.
In the case of education new approaches should be considered, perhaps displace current, accepted norms; standardized testing, creeping teacher/student ratios, charter/private school push against effective public education, tenure, classrooms held together with duct tape and false hope. Technology and its advantaged methods can place teachers where they're needed rather than forcing delivery of tired, old, one-way presentations into isolated teacher dominions, aka classrooms.
Moreover, I think public education is key. Public education was initiated to differentiate America the Great from wannabe others, because it can be unburdened by profit motive and individual circumstance. But, it’s argued, public education response to our collective, threatened future hasn't been responsive for at least one generation, and perhaps we've had our eye off the ball for longer. It’s probably not the fault of teachers generally, rather a system that clings to old ways, where an entire herd of students are assigned a grade and IQ score, sent home at night with boring old books to do boring homework, then tested and evaluated by standardized methods. Does this dull, old methodology substitute for innovation?
Every microsecond the body of human knowledge grows enormously (and Google saves it). Every individual, including teachers, must assess the current state of knowledge, evaluate the truth or fiction of it, anticipate future relevancy, then cram said expanding knowledge into K-12 lessons, with no more time allocation than 50+ years ago. I don't propose that we de-personalize education despite the obvious, radical shift in futurework or futureknowledge. I propose our nation, collectively, take a proactive leap into the remaining 21st century, to enable the modern generation with modern technique, to save ourselves from ourselves.
To be clear, there are measurable, positive changes in education that already evolve with the aid of technology, but not in poor school districts (which can and do include rural) because the habit of our government to outspend it's budget, and public education begs for the scraps. Government squanders diminishing, collective resources into politically expedient foreign wars while the intellectual growth of our nation is stunted, like corn in the drought. US education rank is inadequate, health care quality diminishes and/or segregates haves from wants, bank bailout is/was above average even as home foreclosures rise to unprecedented levels. Will government get ahead of these problems please, and soon?
If we don’t take care of our own mess some clever, disruptive opportunist will. If the current generation of children are left behind our once great nation might be left in the dust. We're not going to cure our social ills or back out of an economic corner overnight, that may be left to a future generation of government management. Let's take care of them adequately, train them ahead of the curve. We wouldn't want futurefolks to think they've been shortchanged and resent it (assuming they're educated enough to know), we can't allow them to fail.
Next up: Technology Disrupts Education,
Please stay tuned...
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