When considering innovative teaching and learning strategies, most of the people whose role encompasses worrying about such predicaments tend to focus, in my experience, on developing and sharing teacher-centred classroom strategies: using different questioning techniques (Socratic questioning, Bloom’s Taxonomy…), novel ways to plan and execute lessons, original lesson starters and plenaries…
All of which can be very useful. However, the problem I often find is that teachers seldom stop to consider using communication technologies as an innovative teaching and learning strategy to enhance both the delivery of the curriculum and learning outcomes. We all know these technologies exist, yet we choose to ignore them.
Even when the most innovative teachers progress from teacher-centred classroom dynamics to inquiry or project based learning, rarely is technology considered to supply the scaffold for a more effective collaborative and socio-constructivist approach to the acquisition of knowledge.
The reason given most often for this avoidance of the obvious benefits that new and emerging technologies confer on the education of children is that technology is not yet pervasive in schools.
The argument goes: given that children are in classrooms with no access to computers during their school day, with only a few timetabled exceptions, the focus therefore ought to be on innovative teaching strategies that do not involve the use of new technologies.
This makes sense to some. It makes no sense to me.
It makes sense to some because from the 9-to-5 perspective of industrialised education, it is perfectly logical to continue compartmentalising children’s learning and strengthening the central role of the teacher as purveyor of knowledge by avoiding the disruptive influence of computers, social networks, mobile devices and the internet.
However, it makes no sense to me to snub the potential of new technologies to boost the quality of our pupils’ education by allowing them to become an integral part of the teaching as well as the learning process.
We need to realise that these technologies are only absent from schools because we are deliberately keeping them out. We have created an alternative reality in which technology doesn’t exist. We are, in effect, striving to perpetuate a status quo that is already dead and buried in the real world.
This is the elephant in the room. In schools all over the world more and more teachers are beginning to talk about it.
What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
Photo by Richard Roche