Nancy Bailey watched advance promotional material for PBS’s “School of the Future,” and she is fearful that it will be a sales pitch for digital learning.
“On Wednesday, Sept. 14, 9 pm ET, PBS and NOVA will air a two hour special called “School of the Future.” The advertisement tells us much. They are warning that the future for children demands that students need better preparation to succeed due to globalization. What they probably won’t tell us is that this future will likely continue to be manipulated by corporations.
“This abstract, strange future they speak about (possibly puzzling to the smartest among us), will be about technology, of course.
“Their message appears to be that we better address technology that can be used with students, even to study their brains to see if they can learn faster and better. The goal is to close the achievement gap.
“The ad has that hint of emergency for which school reformers are known.
“Sal Kahn of Kahn Academy fame will be on the program. I don’t mind Kahn’s online instruction, but it is naïve to believe that such a program will replace public schools and real teachers.
“And that’s what today’s technology is about. Don’t be deceived by the few teachers that might be shown on this program.
“In some parts of the country they are sitting children online in teacherless preschools.
“They are replacing elementary, middle, and high school classes led by teachers with all online instruction, even though research shows that more computer time doesn’t work out as well as less screen time.
“Many school districts have wasted an exorbitant amount of money on iPads that have not proven to be worth what administrators thought when they purchased them. In some places they sit unused in the closet.
“Technology isn’t bad. It can benefit teachers, students and parents. But it should not be made to appear like it will miraculously improve the way students learn used alone.
“Many parents understand this. The reasonable use of technology is what Parents Across America recently advocated for in a position paper. They recognize the overarching push many corporations are doing to destroy public schooling by creating all online schooling.
“The last chapter in my book Losing America’s Schools: The Fight to Save Public Education is about the technology threat. I believe, like many, that the ultimate goal of the school reformers involves closing public schools in favor of all online–at home or in substandard charter schools set up like warehouses.
“Technology might help the homebound student or the student in rural areas, but this is an alternative. It can also provide review for students who need it, or advanced information for students who want it, but it is not as good as brick-and-mortar schooling.
“It is also troubling to hear repeated claims that computers will individualize schooling which we will hear about in this program. They might give students lessons at their level of understanding, but truly personalized learning involves real teachers and students with which to connect. The human element is critical.”
Get ready for the Brave New World of education, the one without teachers. Think of the cost savings!