Edutopia

I don't know what to say about his political writings, but MIT's Michael Schrage's has touched on some important issues in his recent opinion piece for Financial Times, written on a controversial topic in which he seems to possess some expertise ("The 'edutainers' merit a failing grade," FT, March 22, 206, p. 13):

Yes, the internet is wonderful. Yes, children are our future. Yes, state-run school systems require fundamental reform. Nevertheless, the shrewdest policy to improve public education while saving billions in government spending demands abstinence. Keep computers out of the classroom.

The "edutopian" belief that computers should be essential ingredients of classroom curricula is delusional. A quality education has virtually nothing to do with the technological endowment of the school. To the contrary, history confirms that schools are shockingly poor at successfully assimilating new technologies.

...Look instead, perhaps, to technology as a medium that creatively redefines relationships between schools and their communities. In South Korea, for example, Seoul educational administrators recently announced that they would expand a mobile phone service that let teachers text parents the grades, schedules and homework assignments for their children. Korean mothers and fathers were apparently very enthusastic about this innovation.

In this, I hear some echos of John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's The Social Life of Information but it seems to me Brown and Duguid have dug much deeper, and ultimately, it is best to just refer to Hubert Dreyfus' work, including Mind Over Machine.

 

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