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Skewed in School February 17, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Students, Unintended Consequences.
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skewed   Last night we attended the orientation for parents of students new to Middle School. The talks were more for the edification of the parents and designed to inspire the grade five students and their parents with performances by the school band, the chorale ensemble, and the Odyssey of the Mind.

At the beginning of the evening, none of us was ready to see our kids move into the big building, but after shuffling though the halls on a nine-minute schedule through four core classes, the prospects excited some of the parents. My wife signed up for the Washington trip in the summer right away saying, “There is no option; she will be going.? I spoke with some of the other parents who all had misgivings about the size of the school, the size of the kids, the hormones, the rules, the sheer fact that their kids were moving on to the next step.

My daughter wanted to see the computer lab. For her, that was the real test. The lab was empty and dark that night, but we will make a trip to see it some day while class is on. I will make sure of it.

I was delighted to hear one teacher encourage us to write him e-mails. He said he answers about four a day from parents. I guess that is good. If I could get my e-mail down to 40 an hour, I would be ecstatic. Ah, but I am showing off. Communication is what e-mail is all about. Yesterday, our Public Relations office asked us to recommend a professor who steadfastly refuses to use computers in teaching. A local reporter wanted to finish an article on technology in higher education with an opposing view of some sort. Oddly, I have been having this very conversation with colleagues.

Some of us are beginning to wonder if we are developing a skewed view of the real nature of technology in teaching. If we only socialize and interact with like-minded thinkers about technology and users of technology, then we may be missing the big picture. The question still stands. Why are teachers not using the tools in their classrooms?

Is it ethical to pressure them to use the tools? If a teacher can teach just as effectively without the tools, would we be interfering too much with academic freedoms? If a teacher was not effective and refused to use the tools, would we be remiss in not offering training and support. Finally, what of the teacher who uses the tools in the class, but is still an inefficient and lackluster teacher? I do not hear about that teacher with conversations with my colleagues.

Each question carries with it some suppositions and presumptions that I think I will unpack tomorrow.

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1. Zs - February 17, 2006

You bring up a very good point that I never though of it in this way.
I teach a section of a course that has another section taught by another teacher.
Students really love her. She uses lots of group work and hands on activities. Mostly they do little journal entries, build a scrap book (individually and in group), presentations and brochures. There is no technology involved at all. Students love her.

Her style is not my style. I think those methods are good in elementary school, perhaps still good in middle school?… (I would love to hear Abby’s opinion on this!)
I think the new generation of teachers must know technology, must know how to use it, and MUST know what a blog is (yeah, it is not a piece of clothing in a school uniform!).

Then the question boils down to: what if the students love the scrapbook building?


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