OK. Yes, by "technology" these people mean, "tools their teacher is uncomfortable with." By becoming "better" at something, these people mean, "becoming more like the teacher." Though those tidbits are never reported.
So students are asked to turn off computers and mobile phones, but not clocks or pens. They are asked to not use email and SMS, but school busses seem fine. They are asked not to use digital signals, but paper is actually recommended.
We need to understand this a whole lot better. Technology is the tools with which we manipulate the world, or even the art of manipulating the world, and it is time to stop pretending that it is "anything invented after [I] was born.
|A small paper making machine. This is NOT technology.|
But there are technologies I'd like schools to go without, for a week - or much longer... Technology "abandonments" that would truly demonstrate important things to kids...
Let's try a week without clocks and bells. Few technologies interrupt the learning process more, and limit learning to "the shallows" more, than the school timetable. And few things belittle students more - or expose our hypocrisies more - than bells. They are not just Pavlovian, they are unfairly so. Kids are "late" when the bell rings, but teachers often insist that they get dismissal power, meaning bells are only significant when they can punish students.
So take a week. Cancel the start time and the finish time. Abandon the class schedule. Let students pick which of their classrooms they want to be in - and when. Let kids spend a day working on one thing, or five minutes, whichever they need and want. Let them eat when they want, use the toilet when they want, debate Shakespeare when they want. See what happens.
Our school schedule was invented by Henry Barnard to train kids for industrial shift work. Is that what are schools are still designed to do?
Do any of you have furniture like this at home?"
The chair and desk, that contribution of William Alcott in the 1830s, might have made sense them. But we have central heating now, and carpets are available everywhere. And pillows are cheap at Ikea - so are lapdesks. And kids would rather be comfortable.
And... teachers might find themselves worrying a whole lot less about controlling how kids sit in their chairs.
Let's try a week without books and paper. We know how many of our kids struggle with reading and writing - the physical acts. The word decoding, the holding of the pen, the traditional keyboarding - these things are our primary creators of disability.
So let's get "Socratic" for a week. Lets get fully digital (adaptable text, speech recognition) or simply verbal/audio. Let's talk and listen. Let's think out loud and work on auditory memory.
We might see a whole new set of student skills rise to the top with those "Gutenberg technologies" stripped from our kids' lives. We might see a whole new kind of learning.
- Ira Socol