Waiting for superman

I had this post in my Instapaper ready to read for ages, and finally got to it today, at the end of another busy week with little time for reflection. I was alerted to it by Will Richardson and while it’s context is distinctively (I wrote uniquely, but hesitated) American, it has ramifications here too.

We haven’t (yet) seen the rise and rise of ‘charter schools’ and billionaires with too much time on their hands telling teachers how to do their jobs, but we HAVE seen a US-centric emphasis on testing and standards, the rise and rise of a politically scultpured national curriculum and an increasing tendency that the problems in education are all (somehow) the fault of teachers.

In her post We are not Waiting for Superman, We are Empowering Superheroes, Diane Rhoten passionately argues for a another perspective. It’s worth reading, and I liked the three ‘truths’ she comes up with three key assumptions that should shape our future thinking:

Assumption 1: The future of education is about learning not schooling.

Assumption 2: Technology is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and that end is better learning.

Assumption 3: The power of technology to advance learning depends on context of use.

There’s some guiding principles for action too, and this great statement about techology use:

Our vision of technologically enabled learning is not one of the lone child sitting at her desktop (or laptop) passively consuming PDFs or browsing Web pages. We believe the potential of technology for learning is much greater. We believe its power resides in its ability to deliver active and interactive experiences where a learner participates in the very construction of knowledge by crafting and curating, mixing and re-mixing information with digital tools, a process which can be and should be greatly augmented by online and offline social interactions between friends, in a community of peers, or an extended network of people (both professional and amateur) who share her interests.

Yay for her. I sometimes get nervous with the ‘technology is just a tool’ argument, because it limits the transformative potential to something more like an electronic whiteboard where the teachers just does the same old stuff to the kids. But this is a different arguement. And a nice place to stop at the end of the week.

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