"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Would a Tech Exec Send Her Kid to a Summit School?

Mother Jones has published a disappointing article on the depersonlized learning phenomenon.  The most troubling part of the article comes in this paragraph near the beginning of the piece:

 "Its [personalized learning's] champions—including typically private Montessori and Waldorf schools, as well as pockets of progressive teachers in traditional public schools—claim that personalized learning stands in contrast to the familiar classroom structures born in the industrial age: students learning mostly from lectures and textbooks, practicing assignments on identical worksheets, and being sorted based on age or perceived ability measured by narrow metrics."
The clear suggestion here is that Waldorf and Montessori schools are on board with screen-immersed "personalized" learning, where at least a third of children's time in school is on computer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Both Waldorf and Montessori environments are tech light or tech empty, preferring, instead, real embodied learning experiences as compared to isolating virtual ones.
In fact, at the Waldorf school in Silicon Valley where many tech execs send their kids, there are NO computers, and school is done the old fashioned way, with books, interactions, discussions, and real experiences.

Low tech learning environments do not have to be synonymous with the rote learning models "born of the industrial age."  In fact, Waldorf founder, Rudolf Steiner, and Montessori founder, Marie Montessori, were born in the 19th Century.  As was John Dewey, who had much in common with both.

You may be interested to know, too, that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids with minimal technology.  They would be aghast at the prospect of sending their children to a Summit school.

I would have hoped that MJ would be a bit more skeptical of a learning/teaching scheme that is designed to provide magnificent financial benefits to Silicon Valley oligarchs long before we ever know what effects this new brand of screen learning is having on learners and teachers.  I would have expected, too, that important matters involving student privacy, corporate data sharing practices, policymaking, and public education impact would have been explored.  

Summit's version of personalized learning is really de-personalized learning, and it promises a cheap and extremely lucrative way to monetize public education for the poor for the benefit of corporate education reformers.  With so much resistance coming from educators and researchers, there's a reason why Summit has decided to steer clear entirely of the "personalized" descriptor.

Chaining children to computer screens for large chunks of the school day is miseducative at best, dehumanizing and abusive at worst.

No comments:

Post a Comment