Summary of learning

As I mention below, it’s somewhat challenging to effectively sum up the ideas we have discussed in this class. In addition to all the important readings, I have to thank my classmates for the wonderful ideas they contributed to the class. In doing so, our class exemplified the collaborative value of m-learning. I truly hope that this class continues to be a part of the GSE program in the future.

Here is my 3-part summary of learning:

*Apparently, the camcorder on my cellphone decided I sound better with a lisp…interesting….

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Augmented reality: wow

Of all the technologies we have examined throughout this course, augmented reality (AR) has to be the one that has impressed me the most. There are some really cool examples of how it’s being utilized.

Below, you’ll see how BMW is using AR goggles to train mechanics on specific procedures. The ability to visually layer over what the user sees in real time allows the user to see exactly what the next step is. Imagine if IKEA had something like this for assembling furniture!

I could envision this type of use being implemented in both secondary and higher ed in subjects where students need to learn a hands-on skill. Moreover, using AR in this fashion would facilitate apprenticeship-like situations for students. Maybe a virtual animal could be used for a virtual disection in a biology class.

In this example, you can see a 3D video game that uses AR. I think this example shows the potential of 3D modeling with AR. Consider how thoroughly architecture students could examine a design if they cool zoom in on it in 3D, exploring different angles and viewpoints. Along different lines, students could create AR dioramas or recreations of historical places/periods.

The next video shows how AR functions can be added to books and other documents, enriching it aesthetically and/or functionally:

Overall, AR has great potential and many strengths as an educational tool. One obvious strength is the ability to manipulate any physical space, layering on top of it any pictures, video, etc. that one can think of. A classroom could be turned into an aquarium, the ceiling could become the night sky, the entire classroom a 3D model of an ancient village. Additionally, one can see the potential of layering academic information over realtime views of different locations, contextualizing and conceptualizing the learning for students that much more. To me, though, the greatest is that it provides the user with a different style of interface beyond the keyboard or touchscreen on their mobile device. Many of our readings for this course mentioned that screen and keyboard size alike can be constraints/barriers to developing m-learning apps. With AR, a much, much larger interface is enabled. I’m not nearly enough of a tech wizard or visionary to imagine exactly how, but one could imagine AR technology developing to the point where we can access technology like this:

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Cloud computing as bridge

OK, maybe I subconsciously am obsessed with bridges right now, I have no idea, but I thought the idea of m-learning as a bridge is helpful in discussing the value of cloud computing.

Cloud computing, basically, means that data of whatever form is relevant to one’s needs is stored not locally on a hard drive or a school/district/company server, but “in the cloud”, which basically means it’s stored on the internet.

The more pieces of data are stored and the more people that have internet access to that data, the more “bridges” that it builds from individual users to that data.

One implication of this is that more and more people around the world can have access to high quality education which may not be available locally. This is especially helpful for students in developing areas, rural areas, or students who have other physical barriers to quality instruction.

Another implication is the degree of collaboration it allows. A mere 6 years ago when I was working on my undergrad degree, doing a group project involved either endless emails back and forth, with each revision being a new array of emails that had to be sent out to all group members or the whole group could cram themselves in someone’s dorm or bedroom and look over the shoulder of the typist as the other group members debated and dictated what to write. My blood pressure rises just thinking about it. Contrast that with, for instance, the ease of using Google docs, which allows users to have a document stored online, allowing others to collaborate on it freely and easily. In this sense, we see “the cloud” serving as a bridge not between instructor and learner but between learners. The fact that this collaboration isn’t happening on a local network but a global one means that collaboration can now be global. In thinking about that, I’m reminded of Spencer Kagan’s work on cooperative learning structures. One of his structures, “jigsaw”, stands out. In a “jigsaw”, different members of a group each become experts on a different aspect of curricular content. Then, the group reconvenes and each member teaches their newfound area of expertise to the other members (to avoid getting sued, here’s a link to Kagan’s website). Imagine how dynamic an activity like that could be with students collaborating across continents!

-Another way that cloud computing (and one could argue ICT’s in general) change learning is that as more and more information is stored online, then a debate arises as to whether it’s more important for students to learn that information which is readily available elsewhere or if it’s more important to learn how to find that information. In other words, if that “bridge” exists to that information, does that information need to be memorized (“stored locally”).

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M-learning as a bridge

In reading the four chapters from “Mobile Learning” edited by Mohammed Ally, I was struck with a concept that, while I’m sure is not totally original, is new to me: the idea of m-learning as a bridge.

In the varied applications of m-learning that were shared, one could see in each how m-learning was serving as a bridge, linking two disparate parts:

-in the both the nursing education and teacher education examples, the PDA’s used served as a bridge between the university as a center of instruction and the local community as a center of both instruction and practice.

-in the example of the students in the distance learning program, the use of mobile devices served not just as a bridge between two physically different places, but it served as a bridge between aspects of their lives: work, play, and leisure. In other words, mobiles allowed them to access entertainment (play) while they were waiting for a train (life) or for a meeting to start (work); they could check emails (work) while out with friends (play). In this context, one can see connections to Mark Deuze’s “MediaWork”, which describes how changes in our lifestyles, fueled by- among other things- ICT’s, is blurring the lines dividing the three aspects of our life described above.

-in the museum tour example, mobiles served as a bridge between the object and related information displayed in the museum and the wealth of information that exists about that object elsewhere (although, the lack of WiFi somewhat diminishes that claim).

 

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Teachers and M-learning: Needed changes in teacher preparation, training, and support

A plethora of research has been presented in the last few years which describes the great potential of mobile learning (m-learning), the use of mobile devices in academic instruction. While there are- and should be- debates as to the degree of benefit such practices offer, research has shown that m-learning has several benefits, chief among them a greater ability to customize and differentiate learning experiences, higher student engagement, anytime-anywhere learning, and a lower cost threshold as compared to desktops and other forms of instructional technology (Christensen, et al; Chiong & Shuler). Such promise, though, will amount to little change in educational outcomes if educators are not prepared to capitalize on it. If teachers themselves don’t understand the rationale behind and strategies for differentiating their instruction, there is little chance they will do so effectively for their students. If teachers don’t know the steps for creating a blog, podcast or other informational product, for example, then how can they guide their students through such a process?

There are, then, two different but parallel efforts which must be made in order for any education system, particularly ours here in the U.S., to progress to the point where it is ready to utilize m-learning and realize its potential. First, significant changes must be made to teacher preparation programs. Specifically, a much greater emphasis must be placed on helping educators learn to tailor instruction for different students with different needs. Also, teacher candidates must be coached in the explicit use of technology with students. While the modifications just suggested will hopefully help to develop a more modern and more effective generation of teachers for the future, it does nothing to address the current teacher workforce. Therefore, a dramatic effort will need to be put forth in order to aide existing teachers in developing an understanding, appreciation, and desire to use m-learning with their students. In crafting that effort, however, reformers and policymakers need to take into account what research has taught about us about successfully implementing change and use such knowledge to develop a plan which both respects and involves teachers as well as leads to more and more effective technology use by our students.

To begin, let us consider the need for educators to customize their instruction. This need arises from the amazing diversity which is present in the student body of the nation as a whole, as well as in any given classroom on any given day. Diversity takes many forms, however. One manner in which our classrooms show diversity is through culture and ethnicity. Beyond the obvious differences in primary language, culture and ethnicity can lead to a very important difference in students’ “participation strategies”, or ways of communicating. Gutierrez & Rogoff (2003) articulate how the forms of communication we are adept at is based on our cultural experience, stating, “Individuals’ background experiences, together with their interests, may prepare them for knowing how to engage in particular forms of language and literacy activities, play their part in testing formats, resolve interpersonal problems according to specific community-organized approaches, and so forth” (p. 22). When we consider what Evans calls the “unique heterogeneity” of American schools, we can understand the monumental range of communication styles that exist in our classrooms and how important it is for teachers to be able to make instruction meaningful for that range of students. Cultural diversity, though, is only one way in which our students differ from each other (p. 87). Learning styles is also something teachers must take into account. As Christensen, et al (2008) relay, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences provides a framework through which to understand diverse learning styles. Gardner’s theory explains that there are varied forms of intelligence, which provide varied skills, abilities and predispositions among individual learners. Within each of these intelligences, there are “different learning styles”, ways in which a student is predisposed to making sense of a certain type of content (p. 28). These differences among students have significant impacts on the way they learn. Educators need to be prepared to meet these differences with understanding, flexibility, open-mindedness and a toolbox of strategies which will allow them to facilitate learning for students of all participation and learning styles.

Sadly, research shows that teachers entering the profession do not – and feel they do not- have the expertise to make such differentiation. A study by Tomlinson, et al, demonstrated how teacher preparation programs focus on developing basic skills to “teach to the middle” as opposed to fine-tuning varied instructional strategies (1995). It’s not surprising, then, that we see in the observations of Holloway (2000), Dee (2011), and Christensen, et al that classroom teachers typically implement this type of one size fits all instruction. Thankfully, though, research has also shown us that incorporating an emphasis on differentiation in teacher education programs can have a dramatic impact. For example, Tomlinson, et al found that “even the modest intervention of a workshop raised pre-service teachers’ awareness of academically diverse learners and sustained their commitment to implementing practices to address those needs” (p. 88). Edwards, et al (2006) concluded the same. Dee offers specific recommendations for teacher preparation programs, arguing that, “Given the research results, it follows that teacher candidates need explicit instruction and guidance in implementing differentiation skills, strategies for remediation, in-depth understanding of IEP requirements, and they must intern with professionals well versed in such knowledge and who teach in inclusive environments. Additionally, teacher education programs must ask pre-service teachers to demonstrate course content in practicum experiences to ensure skills transfer to practice (p. 68)”. The need for differentiation in general is clear and it’s just as clear that such differentiation will not happen without a change to teacher preparation programs.

Coupled with moving to focus more on understanding differences among students and how to differentiate for them, teacher education must also emphasize developing a greater understanding of technology and its applications within an educational setting. Interestingly, recent research has shown that learning with and about technology helps teachers to incorporate differentiation into their instruction (Murphy & Lebens, 2009). This research by Murphy and Lebens shares the same conclusion as Christensen, et al, Chiong & Shuler, and Johnson, et al (2011): m-learning holds great potential for improving learning. How prepared, then, are teachers to take advantage of such potential? As in the case of differentiated instruction, it seems that teachers are not leaving their credential programs with the knowledge and attitudes necessary to utilizing m-learning. Johnson observed that “training in digital literacy skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and school district professional development” (p. 5). A recent study by Koc & Bakir (2010) went further. It revealed that the majority of teachers leave their programs with a feeling that they need more instruction on using technology in their classrooms and describe frustration at not receiving the instruction they feel they need. Furthermore, their study revealed that while teachers feel adept at using basic tools such as word processing, slideshow presentation, and basic internet software, they do not have the experience and knowledge of using more advanced programs which allow them and their students to create more dynamic knowledge products. As Resnick (2002) argues, true digital fluency is the ability to create knowledge products, not just being able to find information, and this fluency is not being developed in credential programs.

Thankfully, there are a myriad of both research studies and anecdotal examples which show that, when properly trained, teachers enthusiastically and effectively use technology in their classrooms. For instance, Keengwe, et al (2009) relays the positive results and engaging instruction that came from a group of student teachers being given iPods and training as to how to use them with their students. Chiong & Shuler and Johnson, et al both share similar stories. In seeing the benefit that arises from technology use and from instructing educators in technology use, it is now incumbent upon researchers to examine how best to structure this instruction. While this is a field of research that is just developing, there have been some helpful findings in the last few years. Dexter, et al (2006) observed that content-area specific experience and practice in using technology was of great help to student teachers. This coincides with the work of Mishra and Koehler (2006), who, too, observed that content, as well as other aspects of educational context, are important factors to consider when teaching pre-service educators about technology use. We can see the same underlying concepts in Christensen’s argument for more contextualized research in education. The importance of context is shown in another regard by Hernandez-Ramos and Giancarlo (2004) who demonstrated the benefit of instructing teachers in technology use with real students in working classrooms as opposed to strictly theoretical work done at a university site. It must again be emphasized that these are mainly preliminary studies done in a nascent field of research, but it is heartening to see that such research has been initiated. Hopefully, such research will continue and, building upon such findings, the next generation of teachers will be better prepared to utilize technology, allowing their students their fullest and richest array of educational experiences possible.

What, then, should be done with the current teacher workforce (of whom- in the interest of full disclosure- this author is a member of)? Obviously, these teachers are well past the point of being in a credential program and will not benefit from the specific changes suggested above. Just as obvious, though, is the notion that students in these teachers’ classrooms deserve engaging instruction which is differentiated for their needs and utilizes technology and all of its potential. Without the luxury of a multi-year teacher education program, how can our education system help these teachers develop the necessary skills? Unfortunately, much of the response from the public, pundits, and policymakers alike has been frustration and anger at teachers for “not changing like they should”. As Evans (1996) notes, “The typical pattern when reform fails has been to blame teachers rather than designers” (p. 9). This sentiment is part of larger trend of blaming teachers for the failings of the U.S. education system, a disturbing trend which could (and for this author, recently did) become the focus of an entire paper on its own. However, let us keep our focus somewhat narrow and consider the push for greater technology use and more thorough differentiation by teachers and how that effort needs to take into account what research has taught us about successfully implementing change in schools. Obviously, the changes proposed by Christensen, et al and many others call for a significantly greater use of technology and more personalized instruction in schools, which will require substantial change by teachers. The public and policymakers must understand what research has shown us about barriers to change in any workforce, especially teachers. Evans (1996) does well to describe the loss of social status and accompanying decline in morale that has plagued American teachers over the last twenty years. Research shows us that with declining morale comes a decline in willingness to try something new and maximize one’s effort in doing so (Evans; Hall & Hord). Evans notes, “As their public image and social status decline, teachers’ self-esteem diminishes, too, and with it their sense of efficacy and their confidence. And as their perception of shared home-school partnership shrinks, so too does their appetite for sacrifice. In times of psychological deprivation … resilience and generosity dwindle, rigidity and self-concern intensify. And when reform asks teachers to undertake the hard work of radically altering their practices and beliefs, it is asking for generosity, flexibility and sacrifice” (p. 124). Research has yielded two observable and related principles of change: change invokes a sense of loss of past practices as well as a challenge to existing competencies. Both of these observed phenomena involve a lack of psychological safety on the part of the individual implementing a change, teachers in this case. Research about change has shown that psychological safety is vital to making teachers feel comfortable enough to try out a new practice. Evans explains that “To succeed at change, people must be free to fail at it, to explore, err, and try again without penalty” (p. 85). Contrast that need with the severe, test score-based punishment mechanisms fundamental to the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB), arguably the most powerful education reform in recent American history. With threats of “program improvement” and state takeovers of schools looming over teachers’ heads, is it any surprise that they (we) would cling to old practices and not feel the freedom to experiment? Therefore, before proponents of m-learning can reasonably expect teachers to implement the changes they suggest, they must first understand the political climate teachers find themselves in and how this climate makes effective change much less likely. Thus, I would call on advocates of m-learning to incorporate such an acknowledgment into their arguments and, hopefully, begin to see advocating for teachers and for changes to NCLB as just as important as advocating for the changes they want teachers to make.

Even in a more supportive environment, however, there still exist barriers to change which must be addressed. One, and debatably the most important, is that change in schools requires significant new learning on the part of teachers (Evans; Hall & Hord). The research shared above offered suggestions how to- when given ample time- help teachers master these skills. A major impediment to current American teachers (as opposed to pre-service teachers enrolled in full-time credential programs) receiving the training they need is the little amount of time they have to spend on developing new skills. A study by the NEA showed that teachers in countries with more successful education outcomes spent significantly less time teaching in the classroom and significantly more time working on professional development than their American counterparts (Evans, p. 139). Koc and Bakir share that teachers currently in the workforce don’t receive the support they need in order to use technology well. Two recent studies, one by McGraw-Hill (2010), the other by the National Center on Education and the Economy (2010), both recommend that teachers be provided more and better training as well as more time for it (Paine, et al; Koebler). Reformers must acknowledge that more time for training is a systemic requirement, not a temporary need and, thus, it should become a systemic quality, not a temporary fix. Research also tells us that “followership”, more commonly called “buy-in”, on the part of teachers is key (Evans, p. 18). If a proposed change is going to be successful, teachers must believe in and be willing to go down that road. Going further, research also shows that “followership” is best developed by involving teachers in crafting policy about change (Evans). Lastly, if these ideas about change are followed, then hopefully the gap between reformer’s expectations and teachers’ frustrations will shrink. Let us avoid, however, grandiose claims that m-learning, differentiated instruction, or any single reform will suddenly solve all of our problems. Evans relays how much of the public’s displeasure with our education system arises from some of the unfulfilled (and unfulfillable) promises made by educators and policymakers in the past (p. 134-135). Reformers would do well to promote their proposals while somewhat tempering their promise. M-learning and differentiated instruction hold great potential, but research tells us that change is “a process, not an event” (Hall & Hord, 8). Hall & Hord write about the need for an “implementation bridge”: a long-term program of support for teachers implementing a change in their practice. This notion holds two important aspects: implementers of changes (teachers) need long-term support to make that change successful and that true success takes time (p. 11). The public should expect more, but accompanied by high long-term expectations, they needs to come a realistic understanding of short-term realities: change needs to come, but it cannot come over night.

In all, one can see many promises in the use of m-learning as well as challenges to its adoption. Clearly, the existing teacher workforce is not currently prepared to utilize m-learning, or to capitalize on one of its greatest potential benefits: facilitating differentiated instruction. If however, dramatic changes can be made to teacher education programs, then the next generation of teachers will be better prepared. Furthermore, if reformers can take into account what is known about principles of implementing change in schools and can give teachers the political and educational support they need, then hopefully the current generation of teachers, too, can capitalize on such promise as well.

I would now invite the reader to watch the following brief video to, in another context, understand the need for reform that is facing our schools.

References

Chiong, C., & Shuler, C. (2010). Learning: Is there an app for that? Investigations of young children’s usage and learning with mobile devices and apps. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Christensen, C., Horn, M., & Johnson, C. (2008). Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Dee, Amy Lyn (2011). Preservice teacher application of differentiated instruction. Teacher Educator, 46 (1), 53-70.

Dexter, S., Doering, A., & Riedel, E. (2006). Content area specific technology integration: a model for educating teachers. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14(2), 325-345.

Edwards, C., Carr, S., Siegel, W. (2006). Influences of experiences and training on effective teaching practices to meet the needs of diverse learners in schools. Education, 126(3), 580-592.

Evans, Robert (1996). The human side of school change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gutierrez, K., & Rogoff, B (2003). Cultural ways of learning: individual traits or repertoires of     practice. Educational Researcher, 32(5), 19-25.

Hall, G., and Hord, S. (2011). Implementing Change. Boston: Pearson.

Hernandez-Ramos, P. & Giancarlo, C.A. (2004). Situating teacher education: from the university  classroom to the “real” classroom. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 20(3), 121-128.

Holloway, John (2000, September). Preparing teachers for differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 82-83.

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Haywood, K., (2011). The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Keengwe, J., Pearson, D. & Smart, K. (2009). Technology integration: mobile devices (iPods), constructivist pedagogy, and student learning. AACE Journal, 17(4), 333-346.

Koc, M., & Bakir, N. A needs assessment survey to investigate preservice teachers’ knowledge,   experience, and perceptions about preparation to using educational technologies. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 9 (1), 13-22.

Koebler, Jason(2011, May 25). U.S. Can Learn from Other Countries’ Education Systems. U.S.   World News and Report, online posting.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: a framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Murphy, J., & Lebans, R. (2009). Leveraging new technologies for professional learning in education: digital literacies as culture shift in professional development. E-learning, 6(3),  275-280.

Paine, Dr. Steven L., et al (2011, March). What the U.S. can learn from the world’s most successful education reform efforts. McGraw-Hill Research Foundation. 14 July 2011 < http://www.mcgraw-hillresearchfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/pisa-intl-      competitiveness.pdf>.

Resnick, M. (2002). Rethinking learning in the digital age. In G. Kirkman (Ed.), The global information technology report: Readiness for the networked word. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Tomlinson, et al (1995). Preservice teacher preparation in meeting the needs of gifted and  otherwise academically diverse students. National Research Center on the Gifted and   Talented.

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OLPC/ mLearning articles

I enjoyed the readings this week which focused on the promise of mLearning, especially for developing nations. Resnick’s article succinctly but effectively made the argument that e-learning in general should not focus on knowledge distribution but more so on knowledge production. His point that fluency is a greater issue than access is a point well taken: if I have a car but I just store things in the trunk but don’t drive it, then I’m not really benefiting from that technology.

I found the report from the GSMA interesting, especially in the specific examples and case studies it provided. Particularly, I found the use of the MXit social network in helping South African students learn math concepts to be a way to truly utilize the most important benefits of mLearning: collaboration, anytime-anywhere connectivity, and customization/differentiation. Of course, at times, the GSMA report, like all industry written reports of this nature, did start to sound like an infomercial for Ericson, Mobitel, etc.

Contrast that with the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when watching the videos on the OLPC site. In addition to being truly heartwarming (no, I’m not being sarcastic) I found that the videos did a great job of articulating the overarching goals of the organization and how they have developed the technology in the laptops around those goals. There were several times where I watched the video and thought to myself “Well, they need to do x, y or z” and, low and behold, in the next few seconds it would describe how they anticipated such a need and built a solution into the technology. To just name a few examples: the screen can be read in sunlight, the software is customizable, the laptops are both durable and web-connected.

I found a few commonalities among the three texts. One, is that so much of what is being described or argued for would be totally impossible without the mechanisms of globalization: the BBC could not practically institute a mobile English learning system in Bangladesh; OLPC could not produce, customize and distribute their laptops as they do.

Another commonality is all three texts do well to show the promise that mLearning holds for developing countries. This, too, is related to globalization: because of the availability of technology on the global marketplace, developing nations can leapfrog steps in their technological development: they don’t have to follow the sequence of development as, sadly, there are significantly behind the rest of the world in having adopted new technologies as they were put into market. This is similar to how many developing nations have transitioned directly from an agricultural to a service economy: globalization and the global availability of products and knowledge provided the opportunity to skip the middle step of an industrial economy.

To put the same observation in a different context, all three texts reflect Christensen’s argument that any new technology (mLearning in this case) is most readily adopted and adapted to situations/applications where the alternative is nothing. Sadly, having little or no opportunity for formal education is a reality for all too many people around the world. The articles did a good job of showing that mLearning provides a (somewhat) cost effective solution for people who have no other choice.

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“Disrupting Class” chapter 9: spoken like a businessman

Having completed Christensen’s book “Disrupting Class”, I wanted to ruminate on it for a moment. I found the final chapter to be representative of the whole book: the author identifies some important issues in education but proposes solutions that ignore much of the practical and political reality surrounding education.

For instance, he argues that district schools should not view charters as competition so that they can allow themselves to learn from them. This completely avoids two important facts: 1) Many charter school organizations view themselves as competing against district schools, making it pretty hard for district schools to not reciprocate. 2) Even if the charter organizations themselves don’t see themselves that way, there are politicians and influential voices in education who absolutely want charters and privatized schools to replace public schools. Though Christensen later acknowledges briefly the folly of directly comparing district and charter schools and basing policy on such comparisons, his argument plays right into the hands of those who would do just that.

Furthermore, when Christensen correctly points out that charter schools are better able to innovate and try something new, he fails to point out that this is the case largely because of legal exemptions which charters receive in terms of instruction, curriculum, etc, which district schools do not receive. Certainly, there are structural barriers to innovation in district schools, but many of those could and would be alleviated if those schools were allowed the same freedom under (or from) the law that charters are granted.

Also, Christensen argues both for schools that teach in a very specific way to a very specific student population. First of all, though I certainly don’t think this was his intent, he is making an argument for (though not necessarily racial) some form of segregation in schools. Now, if it’s by learning style, I don’t think that’s inherently unethical or anything like that, but when we start grouping students by their “life circumstances” then we get into dangerous territory.

While, again, a suggestion for such customization has its strengths, it directly flies in the face of another of Christensen’s suggestions: allowing parents to choose their child’s school each year. If both recommendations were followed, schools would take the time to train teachers in a very specific pedagogical style to fit the very specific pedagogical needs of their very specific student body. There would need to be a number of teachers trained in that manner proportionate to the number of students whose parents had placed them in that school. If, for instance, there was a significant change in how many parents wanted their children to attend each school from one year to the next, the district would then need to dramatically retrain large numbers of teachers in a very short period of time in order to deliver the type and quality of instruction the the author calls for. Obviously, this would create  unsustainable and totally impractical staffing needs.

Once again, I think the problems Christensen finds are very important ones which need to be addressed by our society. Where I find fault, though, is that his solutions are often impractical and/or they give fuel to a certain conservative, Ayn Rand-ish view of the world which contends that education needs to fix its own problems as well as society’s and if it doesn’t it should be eliminated.

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