Carpe Diem—”Seize the Day”—the name of one of the schools featured on last night’s TV special on education, lends an ironic touch to the subject. For as the principal of the school pointed out, digital technology has profoundly affected every aspect of our lives, but for some reason, the field of education has failed to “seize the day.”
Like others who did not grow up in a digital age and have come to it later in life, I was originally skeptical of introducing computerized learning in the classroom, although I was convinced that it was going to happen whether we liked it or not.
Last night’s program, “Fixing Our Schools” showed several ways it can be done without sacrificing warm blooded contact between teachers and students. In fact, blended learning,” as they call it brings students and teachers closer together, and it seems to me, requires even greater skill of teachers.
Two very impressive aspects of the instructional programs presented were first of all, how successful they are in meeting the needs of individual students and secondly how students simply do not have the option of disengagement.
It’s impossible, of course to cover everything in a one hour program, but I would like to know more about
1.How they provide for physical movement. Surely the kids don’t sit there all day–we know how bad that can be. The brief shot of the gym at Carpe Diem suggests that some provision is made for physical exercise,but I’d like to know more.
2. How they schedule individual discussion groups. How, in fact, they schedule the whole day.
Change this dramatic will meet with vigorous opposition from many quarters you can be sure. Teachers themselves will be on the front line. To be honest, many teachers simply do not want to relinquish their role on center stage of the classroom to become “roaming conductors.” And teachers’ unions will object vociferously to any plan that threatens to diminish their numbers. Carpe Diem is a charter school; the featured school in Mooresville, North Carolina, is non union. As such,they have much more flexibility than traditional unionized public schools. Yet schools in the entire state of Florida are embracing digital learning at a rapid rate, showing that changes can be made in this direction.
I can imagine how the teaching of literature and even writing—which has to be done largely one-on-one—could be enhanced and improved using intelligent software. The creation of such software will now replace the publication of textbooks, which it is clear, will eventually become obsolete.
We need to move beyond the old model of education and embrace the new technology. I’m gratified to see that it’s happening.