10 August 2007

The "Education Mayor" vs. Education

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is an odd candidate for "Luddite of the Year" - but he's making that title his goal.

As schools around the world adopt mobile phones and other hand-held devices as essential educational content delivery systems, as discreet disability accommodations, and as a platform from which to teach appropriate technology use, the Mayor, head of a school system that can barely graduate 51% of secondary students who haven't dropped out by tenth grade, is leading a campaign to make life in school less relevant.

This is all pretty sad coming from a guy doing "pre-campaigning" for President as "The Education Mayor," and even sadder considering he built his fortune using technologies he won't allow students to use.

To make himself sound completely ridiculous, the Mayor told a radio show this morning that, "students use cellphones to cheat on tests, look at pornography and discuss unimportant things like dinner plans with their parents." [The New York Times] Well, ya know Your Honor, students use paper and their mouths to cheat on tests, look at pornography and discuss unimportant things every day in your fourth rate schools. You could ban paper, pens, pencils, talking, and perhaps sign language as well, but its still a ridiculous argument.

The way to get students to use technology appropriately, whether that technology is Gutenberg's or Virgin Mobile's, is to bring it in to the classroom, to teach with it, to teach about it, and to make it part of the educational experience. And the way to engage students is to use the information technology that is an essential part of their lives to help them learn and communicate.

Unfortunately this debate too often devolves into the ridiculous "safety" vs. "it's not the way I went to school" debate. Which is typical of "news" within the technophobic New York Times, but highly unfortunate.

If your school bans the mobile phone, ask your administrators why an educational institution would ban the most critical communication system of the time? Ask your administrators exactly what future they are preparing their students for?

- Ira Socol

for the skeptics - a little documentation
Mobile Phones in Educational Settings
Potential of Mobile Phones - Active Learning
Educational Multi-Media on Mobiles
Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Multimedia Classroom
Sydney Australia E-School

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bloomie is a very arrogant and spoiled man. Why don't they just jam cellphones inside the schools. Have them unjammed if the fire alarm goes off.