On Friday the Texas State Board of Education made some decisions that have the potential to effect students in every state in the union for the next decade. If you are not aware,
· The word “capitalism” has been deleted and replaced with the more Republican-centric “Free Market.”
The decisions by the board drew criticism for all over the country and most notably included the American Historical Association.
Historian John Fea (from a Christian college, I might add) is another major critic of the board’s decisions. He recently posted on his blog:
“…the world “imperialism” has been replaced with “expansionism” when referencing the Spanish-American War and the
You may be angered by the actions of the board, just as I initially was. I realized, however, that my real issue is not with the content of textbooks, but more importantly that schools are still using textbooks as the curriculum. Why would schools allow textbooks to drive the curriculum anyway, when they are outdated as soon as they are published? Even the textbook companies are beginning to realize that digital content may soon replace the more traditional printed text. In the current digital age why wouldn’t schools at least opt for something that is more dynamic in nature?
I think part of the answer lie in people’s belief systems about teaching and learning. There is a division in education between people that believe students should construct their own meaning and those that believe that every student should know specific information. I personally believe that a good education includes some of both. We know, however, that because of the way the brain learns, everyone must construct their own meaning. With this basic construct in mind, shouldn’t we be presenting students with a variety of perspectives, teaching them how to objectively evaluate the merits of each, and then allow them to make up their own minds? Fea also seems to mirror this sentiment in his comments about
“Expansionism” and “imperialism” are both words that can describe the way the shapers of
Many of the 1:1 schools I work with have already moved beyond the textbook. Don’t get me wrong, some still use textbooks, but the books have become one resource within a vast array of content available to students and teachers through continuous access to the Internet.
The world has definitely changed, and it is no longer about acquiring information. We have more content/information than we could read in a hundred lifetimes and it increases exponentially every day. The challenge in the digital age is to disaggregating information. How do students, teachers and administrators find credible information, understanding the influences and motivations of the author, make sense of the information, and then apply the information in new and innovative ways. Some 1:1 programs have been operating in this student-centric way for a decade now and more come online every year. Vail Unified School District,
I have made the comment many times this year that if schools don’t wake up and start integrating the technology that people are using in all other aspects of their lives into every aspect of schooling, they run the risk of becoming irrelevant. They will become irrelevant because parents will have many great options to educate their children outside the traditional school setting. More importantly, however, is that students already have access at their fingertips to almost all of the information known to man and will eventually learn to usurp the textbook, the teacher and even the school system.
I’ll repeat myself, because this point is so important. IT IS NO LONGER ABOUT INFORMATION. It is about teaching students to think for themselves so they can make sense of the sea of information available at their fingertips. The risk we run if we continue down our traditional path is the creation of a generation that is prepared for the past and won’t be able to compete in the future.
Michael Gielniak, Ph.D., Director of Programs & Development, One-to-One Institute