Saturday, January 12, 2008

Relevance and Rigor: An Ongoing Struggle in Education

This is my response to an excellent blog posting I read earlier today. The topic of technology in education and our present level of acceptance in and out of schools has been on many people's minds lately. It seems to me that part of the human condition includes the urge to look for ways to improve productivity and make life "better".

I caught this train of thought and responded to a recent posting on Tom March's Ozblog: "Intriguing Ourselves to Death" by Tom March, presently in Australia, who is the co-developer of the WebQuest strategy with Professor Bernie Dodge.

My comment on Tom's blog posting:

IMHO, you are on target that there are many voices, ideas and models for education in a technological world, and I agree to help. Your goal is similar to my own.

Many people that you may not even know have been blogging about philosophical content similar to that you describe, so all we have to do is join the 1's and 0's into coherence.

Here are some related threads on a few other blog postings:
Walk a Mile
Support Is Everything
Learning to Share: Part 1
Sneaking Suspicion


kolson29 said...

Thanks for another post on the topic - it's needed. I am extremely lucky to work where I do - where technology is promoted, accepted and embraced. Keep up the good writing.

TomMarch said...


Thanks for entering into a discussion with me. I appreciated the links you placed in this post and see the distinction regarding those who are keen and at the tweeter-edge of technology and those who still haven't engaged with it. I suspect you'll agree, but I see this as much more of a model of education issue than a technology one. Those who won't or don't adopt, yes I see as a need for us to reach them, but I've come to doubt any real change will come unless education stops being an assembly line and evolves into something more similar to Wikipedia - a learning community built on trust.

What is sometimes disheartening to me is that when I say something like this, teachers will say, of, we already do that. But of course they don't, because the system doesn't. We do great disservice to students and learning, but putting it all in sets of boxes.

What I have in mind is to begin to arrive at some inarguable agreements, then move on from there: to make some progress, that we won't yield to the pendulum swing in 10 years.

How about this for a core truth: "The purpose of education is to help students learn the best they can."

Sounds like Mom and Apple pie stuff, right? But if we really believe this, we must question grade levels, content areas, direct instruction or constructivism when used as the only tools.

Here is where I see technology helping. I call it "Big Mother." Google and all the data mining ingenuity targets consumerism. What if 20% of that genius and computer power acted not like Big Brother, but a loving Mum looking out for the best interests of her children. Schools try do this, but we begin with distrust, not an "assumption of good faith."

Enough for now.

What do you think? Please invite your friends to contribute here or we can get a wiki going.


Tom -