Posted March 29, 2011on:
Where Do We Fit in this “Change” in Education?
Ever since the beginning of Sped312, I’ve found myself thinking about technology’s role in today’s educational system. This class has made it quite obvious that technology does have a place within today’s educational system, but I question how prevalent technology actually is. Through the course of this semester, I have completely opened my own mind to the importance of technology in modern classrooms. Therefore, when I came across the blog below, it resonated well with me. It not only was aligned with my own ideas and questions about technology’s role, but reinforced the importance of technology and raised some new thoughts in my mind.
Will Richardson argues that it is very difficult for teachers to consider change when they do not have the context for it in their classroom. He also questions the value teachers place on change in the classroom. Change, he means, is the shift toward 21st century thinking. While today’s students were born into this 21st century style of life, not many current teachers are accustomed to this lifestyle. Richardson discusses a conversation he had with a teacher who was finding it difficult to see the necessity and importance of change in the classroom. This teacher was caught up on “old style” ways of teaching: paper, #2 pencils, and standardized testing. Richardson suggested that this teacher switch to what he calls “doing both mode” where teachers engage students with testing items but through the use of modern tools and technology. Still, this “old school” teacher just wasn’t having it. Instead, the teacher uses the legitimate argument that students are capable of succeeding without technology, so why add it now?
Personally, I would agree with this teacher to an extent. Yes, I think students are perfectly capable of succeeding and passing standardized tests without modern technology. Pens and pencils will get them there, but at what cost? The cost of creativity, higher level thinking, engagement, collaboration, exploration, and discovery? The cost of reaching their highest personal potential in ever realm of learning? I think yes.
Yet, I question today’s educational system and its own objectives. As a future teacher, I still see the emphasis today’s classroom puts on standardized testing. Maybe this is a result of current laws and policies, but I think it is much more than that. Today’s teachers are stuck in old style teaching ways…just like the teacher Richardson had a conversation with. While newly graduated teachers realize the importance of technology, majority of today’s teachers grew up and were educated in a time without today’s technological advances. As a result, there is a heterogeneous mix of educators in our country: some emphasizing new ways of learning, some not. Which brings me to my next question: Even if challenged to make changes in the classroom, are older teachers too stubborn to follow through? Can today’s society force this change within the classroom, or will this come with time as new, more recently educated teachers take over? Where does our generation of teachers fit into this current, long-withstanding mode of education?
Honestly, I wish I had the answer. Reading this blog definitely raised more questions in my mind than it answered. Before reading Richardson’s post, I feel like I was living in “lala land”. The plan was to become a teacher and teach at a school where technology’s presence was prevalent, and everything I needed was right at my finger tips. REALITY CHECK: Not every coworker, boss, or peer I have will have the same teaching methods as I do. How did I not think about that fact that I will be working alongside teachers who were educated probably before I was born? I realize this sounds a little harsh, but it’s an important concept to realize.
So, instead of offering answers, I can only offer my own opinions. It is up to us, our generation of teachers, to enforce this change. We cannot sit back and soak in our own University of Illinois education and expect the rest of the world to follow when we’re ready to enter the work force. We will be faced with many, many challenges, and many people may doubt us. We are young and inexperienced, but we have the passion to make this change. Richardson’s “bells and whistles” matter to us, and luckily, we have discovered the importance and necessity of technological tools in the classroom. So I challenge us to make this shift from old school to new school education for the sake of our students. I challenge us to face the inevitable doubts and obstacles head-on. I challenge us to enforce our beliefs and spread our knowledge. Each student deserves to be pushed to their limit in order for them to reach their highest potential. Through the use of modern educational tools and technology, we can, and will, help students attain their highest educational outcomes.