Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Disruption of education...

...as we know it.

Chris Lehmann recently posted about the book Disrupting Class (Chris needs to know he is not the last to read it, mine is still unread.)

Two posts I am reading today reference ideas related to this book.

One from Tim Stahmer:

…the current educational system – the way it trains teachers, and the way school buildings are laid out – is designed for standardization. If the US is serious about leaving no child behind, it cannot teach students with standardized methods.

While people have spent billions of dollars putting computers into US schools, it has resulted in little change in how students learn. And most products that the fragmented and marginally profitable education software industry has produced attempt to teach students in the same ways that subjects have been taught in the classroom.

The reason for this disappointing result [little or no improvement in learning] is that the way schools have employed computers has been perfectly predictable, perfectly logical – and perfectly wrong.


…when disruptive innovators begin forming user networks through which professionals and amateurs – students, parents, and teachers – circumvent the existing value chain and instead market their products directly to each other, … the balance of power in education will shift.

Another from Will Richardson offers this one sentence from Schlechty that sums it up beautifully:

Schools must be transformed from platforms for instruction to platforms for learning, from bureaucracies bent on control to learning organizations aimed at encouraging disciplined inquiry and creativity.

First I need to read this book, and second need to continue to tinker what I do to become closer to this. I have come a long way, but this will be an interesting year as we are purchasing question banks to help students do better on the state science assessment. There is a whole lot wrong there with that last sentence. Though they need help with questions, the emphasis on content and not process is still problematic and more of the same failed system.


  1. Louise, I hope 'Disrupting Class' is at the top of your reading list; I'm interested to see what your thoughts on it are.

    This year "we are not purchasing question banks to help students do better on the state science assessment". Is this for budgetary reasons or pedagogical ones?

  2. Thanks for the link. As I mentioned in my rant about the book, I was a little disappointed considering how much buzz it was getting. I certainly like their central premise of technology fostering more individualized instruction and giving parents and students more control. I just don't think it's going to be quite the grass roots process the authors imply it will be. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of baggage centered around standardized testing that's not going to vanish without a lot of political effort.

  3. Sorry Claire. I had a typo which is now fixed. Though I am glad that we have test banks to help with the tests, it is still more of the same system. Inquiry and learning process is lost with emphasis on testing and test banks.

  4. Louise, thanks for the clarification! I often wonder how much of a difference test preparation makes to student scores. I've known some biology teachers who spend 2 weeks at the end of a course soley on preparing for the provinical exam (worth 40% of a student's mark); this of course does not include all of the 'teaching to the test' that has been occurring throughout the semester. I've also met a few renegades who refuse to teach to the test and refuse to spend time specifically on test preparation; they feel if they can teach their students to think and act like scientists then those students are going to do well with or without test prep. Of course I've always been chicken to try the latter route and so have taken the middle ground, with regret.

  5. @Tim: I don't see it being the grass roots process either. For some reason, reform seems to miss education, no?

    @Claire: I act like the latter and sometimes take a lot of heat for it. It is difficult as I think some are waiting for you to fail and become an example. The only way to learn is process but a) we are not trained to teach this way and b) there is not much support for that way of teaching.

  6. Beautiful words over education well ........

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