What’s the harm? Is there really any harm in continuing to emphasize basic reading and math skills? We know the statistics for struggling readers, who are below grade level, need help.  We also know that reading skills are critical predictors of successes with social studies and science.  This type of curriculum was successful for my generation and my parents’ generation.  Are basic skills still the standard when the vocations of our future workforce do not exist yet?

Is there really any harm in ignoring technology and other digital tools in our school classrooms? These two articles, one by Dr. Scott McLeod who has an extensive following on his blog and through Twitter and the other by Virginia Heffernan who writes for the New York Times, offer some perspectives on the consequences for our schools and governments when choosing to use technology as test preparation tools and devaluing problem solving tools.

“So What if Schools Don’t Prepare Kids for the 21st Century?” by Dr. Scott McLeod on May 21, 2008.

“Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade” by Virginia Heffernan on August 7, 2011.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Which points resonate or “ring true” to you? Which points are off the mark?

About Michael M Grant

Dr. Michael M. Grant is a passionate professor, researcher, and consultant. He works with faculty members, schools and universities, and districts to integrate technology meaningfully and improve teaching and learning. When 140 characters just won't work, then he blogs here at Viral-Notebook.com. He has a beautiful wife and three equally beautiful daughters, who will change the world.

2 Thoughts on “What’s the harm?

  1. Anna Lovel on October 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm said:

    First off, I don’t think that this debate will be resolved any time soon. Our first priority as teachers must be to do what is best for the children that we teach. Students absolutely must have basic skills; I consider higher-order thinking and problem-solving to be basic skills. If we have reliable, definitive data that supports the assertion that integrating technology improves student achievement, then by all means implement the intervention.

    When implementing an intervention, the focus should be on results: we should see a change in the quality of instruction and in learning. Additionally, the intervention should focus on improving learning for the most underprivileged students. One of the problems with technology as a learning tool is that it leaves behind the students who are farthest behind. It has the potential to catch them up, but they need access.

    An additional problem presented by a technological intervention is the technology itself. Our textbooks are often out-dated. How well will school really keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape of technology? Not well if past history is any indicator. We should not go about this by preparing students to use outdated technology. That will not prepare them for the workplace either.

    Technological interventions could be great, but there are many unanswered questions and unresolved logistical problems that need to be solved first.

  2. G edwards on July 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm said:

    You’ve got to realize that those jobs that aren’t invented yet will be invented by people/ students that also did not grow up doing them. So what was it that prepared them for that success? Most often it is access to tools, an interest in a particular field or topic, problem solving skills, hard work, and opportunity. Most of that isn’t taught and none of it can be guaranteed to every student in every district. But that does not mean we should not make efforts to supply students with tools and opportunities to find an interest and work hard at solving interesting problems.

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