Tag Archives: control

Sometimes mindless, sometimes malevolent

Bill Ayers said:

What we call education is usually no more than training. We are so busy operating schools we have lost sight of learning. We mostly participate in certification mills, institutions founded on notions of control and discipline, lifeless and joyless places where people serve time and master a few basic skills on their way to a plain piece of paper that justifies and sanctions the whole affair. Sometimes, these places are merely mindless, and sometimes they are expressly malevolent.

via Paul Thomas at https://go.shr.lc/2Tj60sl

Fear is a prison

Fear is a prison

As Howard Rheingold notes,

The technology affords an environment in which students [can] take on more of the power and responsibility for their own learning.

But we don’t see that. Instead, we see

a hype-and-bust cycle that goes back to the personal computer. Look at all the marvelous things technology is going to do! And then it doesn’t happen.

And the reason, as Rheingold correctly identifies, is

the secret, or maybe not so secret, agenda, which is that the classroom is really for teaching compliance. That was useful when societies were transforming from agrarian to industrial, but it’s less than useful in a world where you’re going to need to be thinking critically about the information you find.

And there we have – all tidy and neat – the biggest barrier to effective technology integration in today’s schools, even in those 1:1 environments that provide computing devices for every student. We could be (should be!) utilizing technology to empower youth at school but instead it’s still about control. That’s why we have acceptable use policies, not empowered use policies. And that’s why in most classrooms we continue to see replicative uses of technology rather than transformative uses. It doesn’t matter that computers are the most powerful learning devices ever invented in all of human history if we’re afraid to lets kids fly.

Fear is a prison. And empowerment within tightly-constrained, adult-directed parameters isn’t really empowerment.


[Guiding question: What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?]

Image credit: Fear is a prison

Educational technology should be about learning, not control

Glass ceiling

JogNog did a short survey of more than 150 teachers and principals across America. One of the questions it asked was, “What are your three biggest challenges to being a great teacher?” The top two responses were motivating students and student behavioral issues.

Over at Education Rethink, Steve from Jognog said, “The technology can create even more control issues in class – more headaches for the teacher. So the technology needs to be simple and consistent.” But the top two responses fall within the category of students aren’t buying what we’re trying to sell them and are instructional/curricular issues, not technology issues.

I’ve got two quick thoughts on this: 

  1. If technology in your classrooms is viewed as a (lack of) control issue, you’ve got bigger issues. It’s not about control. It’s about learning. Yet again, our needs to box in and manage students get in the way of engagement and learning.
  2. As Seymour Papert used to emphasize, good technologies should have low floors (i.e., it’s easy for novices to get started) and high ceilings (i.e., it’s easy for experts to work on increasingly sophisticated projects). ‘Simple and consistent’ may be desirable low floor characteristics but we need much, much more for our students.

What are your thoughts?

Image credit: Web architecture, Bigstock

The goal of classroom management

Motivated, engaged, challenged, and successful students are well-behaved, not because they’ve been threatened but because they are too busy engaged in learning to misbehave. The goal of classroom management is not quiet classrooms, it’s productive students.

Robert Slavin via http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/sputnik/2012/05/classrooms_need_more_pizzazz.html