My Ever-Mutating Educational Philosophy

ImageI have taught just about every age-range in my years as an early childhood professional: preschool, middle school camps, after school programs, teen California caravans, parents, families, teachers, higher ed, and myself – the ultimate autodidact. Can’t teach my dog though…that’s another post for another day.

Our education system in the US isn’t broken. It was never fixed. It was never perfect. And there wasn’t a golden age. These are all myths we live by…or at least the politicos seem to use them as the basis of their legislation.

I encourage you to watch Dr. Mitra’s video above. In his eloquent experiment he stumbled across some invaluable information, i.e. children can teach themselves when they are interested and engaged.

The question becomes: what does learning look like, how do we measure it, and what exactly is it that children need to know for the future? We don’t have all the answers to these questions. But we do have a good idea of the qualities children need to have to be successful….focus and perseverance.

Those two ingredients are a large part of the ultimate creative cocktail. When one is focused and determined creative problem-solving occurs.

Tablets and computers are but mere transmitters. Their essence will continue to change exponentially.

I’m going to digress for a minute to say that I feel very strongly that we look at technology realistically. Families and classrooms can engage children in a lot of computer/tablet activities that are not developmentally appropriate. Time can be wasted at an alarming rate. I also believe that technology should be used to enhance relationship. It should not BE the relationship. The American Pediatric Association recommends NO screen time for children under 2 and the early childhood community bumps that to age 3.

CEO’s for Apple, Google, and eBay in the silicon valley are sending their children to Waldorf schools that ask parents not to introduce technology until 8th grade! (http://www.educationnews.org/technology/silicon-valley-tech-execs-sending-kids-to-tech-free-schools/)

Children under 5 aren’t missing anything by not engaging in technology. By the age of 8 they will have picked up all the skills they need at a rapid rate.

The game changer is the Internet. The Internet gives anyone, anywhere (almost) access to the world, to its past, its future, and its dreams. We all can learn in new ways in this Brave New World.

One of many challenges is the time in which we live. We have one foot in the horse and buggy and one foot in the car. Computer literacy will not generalize to us as a species probably for another 40 years or so.

Until that happens, and when everyone on the planet can have access to open, uncensored information, it is absolutely necessary that educators remain vigilant to the fact that for the hodge-podge of access, skills, and ability to interface effectively with the Internet is continuing to create huge achievement gaps in our country.

For those of us who enjoy technology and are adjusting to our new knowledge, we can act as technology ambassadors to the “technology immigrants” who struggle with opening emails and attaching documents. This is a very small step we can do in the name of social justice.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “My Ever-Mutating Educational Philosophy

  1. That tech elites go the other way with their kiddos is funny and somehow not surprising. No one is immune from being overwhelmed, and maybe those at the top of that scale are showing sympathy for the next generation in weaning them on to tech slowly.

    I agree fully with the ambassador idea (I call myself, with some conceit, a tech therapist), as we don’t need the gaps between us to get any wider.

  2. The last sentence is the one that really grabbed me – “…act as technology ambassadors …is a very small step…in the name of social justice. I have been a technology junkie and an ambassador for many years, but always come down on the side of “if you don’t really need it to make your life better, why bother?” Social justice is so much a personal, non-technical process for me. Relationships are the home of justice, and it seems to me that technology is simply a tool, much like a taxi, to help facilitate our physical proximity, not ever to be more than a bit player.

    • I agree with you also. Which is why I think it is important for the “adults” in society to keep a healthy perspective on how we let our lives interface with technology. Having said that, by expecting schools to have smart boards in classrooms, Ipads, the INTERNET, and the like in their schools, is already putting underfunded schools at a disadvantage. And, those students aren’t growing up with the same toolbox as their more fortunate peers.

  3. I work with such a variety of people just at the college. I see the vast differences in use and comfort and capabilities. The gap is pretty stark just in that small population. I imagine it in the broader community and it is pretty sad. You are right about the literacy not really getting to a saturation point for many years. As teachers we need to not only guide the people in our classrooms, but help our families and others use the tools wisely.

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