A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Educating with Screens

My God! I just read a Jay Mathews column that didn’t elevate my blood pressure to life-threatening heights. Mathews is the guy who has probably done more to advance the spread of AP classes to high school classrooms than anyone else. Viewing the AP program as essentially an academic scam, I risk reading Mathews from time to time simply to see what mischief he is stirring up for public school educators. But I guess to show me that the possibilities of human redemption are infinite, his October 8 column had me open to the possibility that Mathews just might be able to do teachers some good.

Reviewing the book Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse Is Making Our Kids Dumber, by veteran Virginia teachers Joe Clement and Mat Miles, Mathews credits their argument that often the engagement of teachers and students is the best way of teaching, providing not only for the transmission of information but, even more importantly, an exchange of ideas and feelings necessary for the socialization of young people into responsible citizens. As someone who has come to see the infusion of technology into the public schools as one of corporate America’s great swindles and a threat to the very existence of public education, I’m looking forward to reading this book and to the next column Mathews has promised on what its authors propose. I dare to hope that people are beginning to catch on to the fact that education is essentially a social process that is not well mediated by technological means. I dare to hope that savvy parents will rebel against having their kids who spend endless hours at home staring at screens going to school to isolate themselves in various technological cocoons.

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Who’s Accountable?

I’m onto my system of school accountability again. It enraged me to read of the introduction by some of the nitwits leading our nation’s school systems of virtual school days. You’ve got it. Virtual school days have kids staying at home and doing their school work in one way or another through the internet. One has to laugh at the rationale offered by some for this cheap knockoff of education. Since more and more employers have their employees working from home, public schools offering virtual school days are preparing students for the workplace of their futures. The schmucks selling this snake-oil are the pawns of the corporate school reformers who would love nothing better that a complete system of virtual schools. No need for school buildings, school buses, no student cafeterias. No need to manage the behavior of hundreds of children. No teachers getting together to engage each other professionally. Much harder for unions to organize people who never come to one workplace. The perfect system for the faceless cogs so desperately sought after by the titans of our rapidly emerging dystopia. Where is our system of accountability to check these charlatans who would cheat children of their right to a real education?

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