The Future?

I glanced at a headline yesterday that claimed the Province has just banned personal technology from our schools. I didn't read the newspaper story, so I don't know what provoked the decision. Or if it's true. (Our local newspaper is real shaky on that fact vs theory stuff.)

I don't really care. I do care that our adult education classes may be told to follow the same policies. I wish I was a Billy Bragg bad-ass who could just say "Screw 'em." But I'm actually a 45 year old under-skilled Canadian who cares about awards the Post Office hands out.

At the best of times, in my classroom, people work at an instructional level, no matter what the technological tool. That means somebody new to computers might play Solitaire in order to improve their mouse skills. So too, someone new to card games (I had one last year). But technophiles getting ready for their GED don't play Solitaire - they won't learn anything, and learning is the only reason they're in my class.

In the old days, they called that kind of thing an individualized, self-paced, learner-centered curriculum. In the old days civil-servants and business leaders weren't telling adult learners and their coaches what they ought to learn Next and how long it Should take and what teaching/learning method they Must use. Student-centered individualized curriculum (SCIC) is just a different mindset.

Working on your basic spelling and sentence structure? Want to text message your friends? Okay. Just let me know what you're learning and how I can help. Hint: if there's no role for me in your learning, you've become independent and its time to move on to a task you find harder to do alone.

Working on GED prep and world geography? Want to browse the National Geographic website? Sure. Just let me know what your learning, and then use that information in a piece of writing or a group presentation or by making your own map. No, I won't make up a test for you. But you can make up one for me, and mark it after, and explain where I went wrong.

And that's education as scaffolding: helping people reach higher than they might on their own. In a world where so many people face so many different challenges and have so many different goals, good scaffolders use every tool they can find.


For more on the matter of high-tech in schools, here's an article by David Cassel on tech.blorge and a reflection piece from adolescent literacies.

As for me, I wanna be more like Billy Bragg

Here comes the future
and you can't run from it.
If you've got a blacklist,
I want to be on it.
Waiting for the great leap forward.

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