Posted by: crudbasher | March 30, 2012

Education Technology Is Trumped By Education Culture

(cc) ucumari

I hope this doesn’t turn into a rant. 

I have read many stories about how a new technology is introduced into the classrooms of American schools. Many times the stories write about negative results. Schools ban laptops and phones because students misuse them.  I wonder though how much of this can be blamed on the technology?

Our schools have a certain culture built into them. We tell the students from a young age that they have to get good grades so they can get into a good college. You have to go to a good college and get good grades to get a good job. We never tell students that you have to learn as much as you can to be successful do we? Here are some notable quotes about education:

A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated. – Horace Mann

In the world today, a young lady who does not have a college education just is not educated. – Walter Annenberg

Reading builds the educated and informed electorate so vital to our democracy. – Brad Henry

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite. – Barack Obama

In pursuit of this goal, we have spent a fortune on the education system. Lately there has been a push for eTextbooks and iPads and all sorts of gadgets.

Let me say it here very clearly: technology won’t make much of a difference in the current system. These new technologies are about empowering the individual. The school system is about standardizing the individual.

The current education system is based on fear, not passion. It’s not about excellence, it’s about a minimum standard. It’s not about students, it’s about jobs. It’s not measured in competency, it’s measured in time and money.

Technology will only be adopted if it reinforces and fits into the current pedagogy. Pedagogy, however, is what needs to be changed the most.

There is a huge debate going on right now about how to “reform” this system. I believe this debate is, to quote Shakespeare,  “…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  You can have all the Race to the Top programs you want, and nothing will really change.

So why do I believe that the current system won’t change? All of the players who have a say have a lot at stake in it.

  • The teachers have been trained to teach a certain way. Many are uncomfortable with new things. Most also don’t like giving up control.
  • The administrators won’t embrace anything they can’t put a definite price tag on and as long as minimum standards are being met, why should they?
  • The politicians just need to be funding education to make their constituents happy. More money = more education right?
  • The unions need to make sure they have as many members as possible. Any technology advances that might require less teachers are not open to discussion.

These are the people making the decisions about how people will learn, but look who is missing: Parents, students and everyone else don’t they have a stake in it too?

It galls me when I read very highbrow and arrogant comments and blog posts from “educators” who demand that nobody else can have a say in public education. On one hand they say the nation has a responsibility to education the children, and on the other hand they say that the citizens of the nation should have no say in how that is to be done. Just shut-up and write the checks. This is why voucher programs are so fought against, it gives parents the checkbook back.

So here’s an analogy for you.

A teacher, an administrator, a union official and a politician are in a cage with a tiger. They are arguing about how to reform the education system. The tiger represents the students and parents.

Of course many other people throughout history have commented on education too.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. – Anthony J. D’Angelo

I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver. Then they would really be educated. – Al McGuire

If I had learned education I would not have had time to learn anything else.  – Cornelius Vanderbilt

And my personal favorite:

No man who worships education has got the best out of education… Without a gentle contempt for education no man’s education is complete.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

I appreciate the hundreds of thousands of teachers who work hard everyday with what they are given. I appreciate how truly limited they are in what they are allowed to do. When you are looking around for a solution to your situation, don’t look to technology for salvation. Instead, keep your eyes open for opportunities to work around the system. Keep your faith up, because the Stormfront of change is coming.


  1. This is not a post that we like to read but I think this is a post that we need to read.

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