Door open or shut?

Posted by Michael Simkins on May 31, 2014

Door ajar“Mr. S, Mr. S, what should we do?”

That was the question my fifth-grade students asked after the second of two school assemblies we attended in close succession.  The first was about earthquake preparedness and the speaker told the kids to sleep with their bedroom doors open.  In the second, the fire marshal admonished everyone to sleep with their bedroom doors closed.   Good grief!  What’s a ten-year-old to do?

I was reminded of that dilemma recently when, on the same day, I read two interesting articles, one entitled “6 Shifts in Education Driven by Technology” and the other, “Instead of Getting Ready for the Tech Revolution, Schools Are Scaling Back.”

The first article summarized the latest Horizon Report, which predicts that within the next two years, technology will drive us all to “rethink the role of the teacher.” Teachers will be expected to be adept at all sorts of technology, adapt it to instructional uses, and use technology to extend learning “beyond the traditional school day.”

The second, on the other hand, proclaims that “The promise of digital education is still out of reach for most American students.” Why?  School Internet connections are too slow.  Even with access, kids are still sharing devices, the devices they share are old, and the bulk of new spending on technology is going into efforts to get ready for the new Common Core assessments.

My hunch?  For years we’ve known, “What gets tested gets taught.”  Now, we have a rhyming corollary: What the test needs gets bought.

The upside?  We really don’t have to test all the time, so I’m betting teachers will leverage any technology that may have been purchased primarily to get ready for Smarter Balanced or PARCC and make it serve a higher educational purpose.

 

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Michael Simkins

Michael Simkins is Consulting Director of TICAL -- the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership. Prior to that he was director of the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project and also served as COO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. He was an elementary schoolteacher for 17 years and an elementary principal for 9 years. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, when it was still a "sleepy beach town."

One thought on “Door open or shut?”

  1. Interesting, and I think often of how doors open and shut. In 1994 Constructivist learning was expected to change the way teachers taught. Then “back to basics” came along, followed shortly by “No Child Left Behind” and of course–new testing! Now we return, 20 years later, to move toward “project based learning” and “constructivist” learning. So many doors opening and closing, and seasoned educators happy that the door opened again.

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