The Future of Teaching

Just before Thanksgiving we had a parent-teacher conference with Duncan's 5th grade teacher.

According to his teacher, he's got a comprehension level of grade 10 and vocabulary level of grade 9, but is currently not doing so great at writing and/or spelling. The theory is that by the time he's tried to transcribe his thoughts to paper and gone through his torturous writing process, he's typically forgotten what he was trying to say. He ends up writing a small number of short sentences. That doesn't score high marks.

His teacher suggested that it would be acceptable for him to dictate his essays, project work etc. to one of us, and we'd type it in (also allowing for automatic spell-checking). She even went so far as to say that it would be perfectly okay for him to use a speech-to-text system to do his work (such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or MacSpeech Dictate).

If that's the case, then why is he learning how to write and spell (and being graded on it)? I strongly suspect that his next teacher (whoever that may be) will have their own opinions on what is and isn't allowed in this area, and it'll be totally different from this teacher.

This got me googling to see what the future may hold in this area. It's clear that the way I was taught is inappropriate in this current world. But is the way that kids are currently being taught the correct approach? Will they really need to be able to write well in ten years time, or will everything be done via typing, texting and voice recognition?

I found an interesting (but exceptionally long winded) article on The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On. It seriously needs to be reformatted for the web. An initial contents and section hyper-text links at a minimum. Unfortunately it's not really relevant to Duncan's situation.

I think we are going to try the you-dictate-to-one-of-us approach first, to determine whether the theory above is correct. If it is, then we will see if there are ways he can improve this for himself without one of having to be present.

If there are any parents out there who have been through a similar situation, your thoughts on best ways to handle this would be very much appreciated.

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