Education is the last pencil and paper institution in the United States, if not the world. How can that be? The most important institution in our society and we give it the least support. Rarely do we even provide our children with current technological tools.
Even without the necessary means, our teachers are incredibly successful. The national average for computer access is one machine for every ten students, which means that some of our students have even less access. I might also add that these averages do not tell the whole story. Many schools portray their technology levels as high, but the computers available are seriously outdated. This issue of the haves and have-nots is also very closely correlated with socio-economics. Wealthier schools have more technology; poor schools have less. This can’t be acceptable to any of us.
How could any business be successful under the same circumstances? Think about it, what small business could exist without the proper tools for each of its employees? What would a business owner/manager say to their staff? “Come on now, take turns.” I can’t imagine. I tend not to listen to critics of education much anymore. I say, provide us with that which you have and we will prepare our students. I hope you are starting to get the picture - we need to stop using compliance as a tool to direct learning. We need to start focusing on providing our students with appropriate access to real learning tools with 21st century instructional methods.
The educational world is stuck in the 19th - if not the 18th - century. It is easier for society not to deal with the needs of our children’s future. Let’s move into the 21st century, provide our children with current, available learning tools, and provide our teachers with the support to offer them. Let’s look seriously at the needs of our students and learn to meet them.
Who are the most successful individuals today? As this is written, it is technology that is dominating the world, and making people millions. The development of all aspects of technology came from our most creative students. Our country is built on the creative abilities of our population, not memorization and regurgitation. When was the last time you read about a CEO who got her job because she could easily access random facts?
We must begin to place a significant value on the process of preparing our children for their future, not our past. By these standards, the institution of education is the problem. The problem is that we are trying to drive the educational car while looking in the rear-view mirror. We can’t see where we are going because we’re looking back at what we missed.
Dr. Patrick Faverty is the Academic Coordinator of the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at the Gevirtz School.