Friday, March 18, 2011

It's a ponzi scheme.

Reader Audrey comments on 21 Things That Will Be Obsolete In Education By 2020:
The biggest problem among many with your assessment is that once education is a video delivered system (oh the desks will still be there), the state can create a curriculum that limits vision to a single narrative. To imagine that the state would not do exactly that is naive in the extreme. The world isn't available for everyone's success. Look around you. It's a pyramid and in order to keep the largest portion of the population in place, you need them to be compliant. 

Young entrepreneurial teachers at the top of the food chain are all about their contribution to education via zuckerberg fueled start up fantasies and it's a whole new world paradigms. But they aren't really paying attention to the structure of the system or the lack of opportunity possible for the largest mass of the population. It's a ponzi scheme. I love technology, but it won't save us. 
Your thoughts?


  1. I'm sure had the edublogosphere been around when textbooks first came out the reaction to this shiny new technology would have been the same. I tend to agree with Audrey, it is a bit of a pyramid scheme and while technology is pretty freakin' awesome it's not going to save us. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes with textbooks and apply it going forward.

  2. I think this is really two overlapping conversations. One is about technology, the other is about political motivations behind education policies.

    There is no doubt that technology can be used as a tool to "standardize" a singular perspective and to solidify the base of the pyramid. But technology can also be a useful tool in exposing and challenging the system that is attempting to take advantage.

    The tricky thing is how to teach students to differentiate and form their own knowledge and understanding of existing systems while you (the teacher) still remain apolitical (assuming you teach at a public school.)

  3. For me, it's the teachers. The teachers. Government, districts and even schools can dictate what I need to teach. However, the teacher is the one who ultimately puts it into the classroom. I could very easily lecture, show videos and have students take notes.

    It's a bit more time consuming but fantastically more powerful to give a topic/question/idea and guide the students to the answers.

    My hope is that the teacher education programs are instilling this value over anything else.

    The pyramid is interesting. How do we break students out from the bottom of the pyramid? We give them the skills they need to be it while still allowing them to learn.

  4. @Robert and Knaus
    Read Paulo Friere Pedagogy of the Oppressed. According Freire school is just a huge selection pyramid designed to maintain the status quo. Maybe it is all for naught....if you stuggle too hard against the status quo you get fired.

  5. Technology or not, there is always the possibility of automated education. Many children in poverty stricken areas have already experienced this. With programs like Success for All. But wait....teaching from a textbook does the same thing. The real question, as a previous commenter pointed out, is what teachers do. Will we choose to engage the children in higher level thinking? Will we blindly (or even silently) follow nonsensical mandates? What is happening today could very well make that happen. Particularly because there are generations those currently under 40) teaching and preparing to teach that were taught with those very disengaging methods. Those wo don't realize when someone is making a decision for them and making them think they made the decision themselves. Thus perpetuating a top-bottom system that keeps those in charge in charge.

  6. I love to play chess. I love to be in an imaginative world when everything that happens happens because of what I choose to do. It can all be calculated, figured out, determined.

    I think that is why I like teaching so much. The way we do school is so much like a chess game. It is all calculated, all figured out, all played within determined formal rules. The difference is that there is no opponent in school, no dialectic or feedback loop in school, so it never seems to change. That is why I hate it so much!!

    No two chess games are ever the same because there is a partner or opponent, in the game who joins in the creation of ideas that are played out on the board. Chess is a collaborative exercise in imagination. School is not, at least in the predominat paradigm. No two schools are ever really that different because there is no interplay of ideas, especially in schools that pride themselves on being content driven! They are all the same, independent or public.

    School, like chess, is not about real life. School is artificial and so is the learning that we do there. It is formal and in the long run, the content is meaningless. Its rewards are external and therefore not self sustaining.

    Real learning is done in the muck of living. Games like chess and school prepare us to play real life, but they are so far removed from real life that we often confuse them for it. The real problem with school is its own exaggerated sense of importance....and the learners are never allowed to play and collaborate in the outcome. School is all about teaching and never it seems about learning. Chess is all about imagination, and never about doing. The teachers think they have all the answers when they do not even know the questions!

    The big question is, who would come to school if we didn't make them! Who is in their element in school?

  7. No one fears being replaced by the "talking head teacher" more than I do, but I want to give two reasons why I don't really fear this happening.

    1. Compare with churches. Everyone expected preachers to be replaced by satellite dishes and podcasts of excellent, top-shelf speakers. It turns out that it takes a COMMUNITY to practice faith, just as it takes a community to educate.

    2. A colleague of mine points out that working parents aren't going to leave kids at home with a laptop and a link to khanacademy. They will need a structured place to go. Schools teach culture/socialization as much as they teach information.

  8. So are we just daycare?


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