It's Back To The Future time, y'all!! That's right - time to think about education in 2030 and what the heck THAT is going to look like.
*day dreams of train wreck*
Welcome to the second installment of my Future of Education series in which we pick apart a series of essays compiled by the Hoover Institute. (If you missed round number one of this discussion, you can click here.)
As always, we shall place our focus on the role of TEACHERS in these essays, because someone has to. It might as well be us. Clearly, I'll throw in some Mrs. Mimi flav-ah just to keep you on your toes.
Well, friends, as we have learned before, we must first consider the source. (I mean, if we took what everyone was saying about US at face value without considering the d-bag...uh source, I think there are many of us who would never leave the house again.) As far as I can tell, Grover J. Whitehurst is a numbers guy. When I read his bio, I learned that he was appointed to the Institute of Education Sciences by George W. Apparently he is all about "scentifically-based research." I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds like someone who is a pusher of "scientifically proven curriculum." BUZZ WORD ALERT!! That is one buzzword that totally makes my skin crawl.
All of a sudden I'm picturing myself in a lab coat ( and fabulous spectator heels to go with the whole black and white look, of course), holding a clipboard and looking out at a classroom filled with children in cages. Very lab rat. Very unrealistic.
I mean, in my mind, boyfriend is like a step away from speaking the words "one-size fits all" and those words? Those are fighting words.
To be fair, I also learned that Mr. Whitehurst is very interested in pre-reading and looking at early reading achievement. I guess that's an upside.
Clearly, I need to work on being fair and balanced...
Okay. So Mr. Whitehurst has written an essay entitled "Curriculum Then and Now." I read it and now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get a tissue.
Why, you ask?
Because I'm sobbing. That's why.
The picture this man paints is bleak. Very, very bleak. And implies that we are going to take what we have learned about the importance of the relationship between teacher and student and throw it out the window. After giving it a nice solid beating out in a field a la the copier in Office Space.
According to this Whitehurst person (who feels more like the Grim Reaper predicting our demise right about now), teaching will fall victim, "... to the triple whammy of unsupportable costs, the dramatic expansion of parental choice, and the marriage of cognitive science and instructional technology."
Translation? No more teachers standing in front of students. No more teachers planning curriculum. No more teachers interacting with children. Imagine teaching as we know it being completely replaced by technology.
Now, I love my lap top. A lot. A. LOT. But right now? I'm definitely giving it the stink eye.
Whitehurst predicts that massive teacher layoffs (which came about as a result of the economic decline in 2008 and the current climate of teacher bashing) lead to the demise of schools. Parents, given absolute choice, were left to choose the best of the worst.
By 2015, Whitehurst writes that we are all going to see the writing on the wall - the future of curriculum and instruction lies in technology. Yes, friends, by 2020 the "age of paper" will officially come to an end and computers will take over.
Scope and sequences will be created by computers through a process called empirical back mapping which looks at the skills a child needs to acquire to be successful with a pre-determined end result. We're going to call it "a content acquisition sequence."
Feel like R2D2, yet?
Students will receive "software-guided instruction" which will be highly individualized. If children struggle with a particular skill, software will be designed to predict the best alternative module to encourage ultimate mastery.
Finally, due to the predicted advancements in cognitive sciences, learning will largely be assessed by examining the degree to which neural changes have occurred in the brain of the student.
Say THAT five times fast.
Whitehurst concludes his narrative prediction with:
"He (the teacher) rarely stood in front of a class of students, but then nobody else did either."
And the scariest part? Whitehurst heavily implies that this is all for the best.
Am I saying that technology is bad? No, not when it is well integrated. Am I saying that education should never change and remain resistant? No, that is insane. Am I saying that teachers shouldn't have to change with the times? No, we need to flexible...I think that is one of the most exciting aspects of our profession.
I AM saying that the idea that we will essentially become computer programmers who no longer interact with children scares the crap out of me.
If this was a movie, I would walk out because it would be far too frightening. But it's too late now. I've read the whole essay. Cue the nightmares!