“Let’s not forget that Socrates was wary of books because they were simply ways of ‘forgetting’, substitutes for wisdom.”
As soon as I read this comment in the magazine section of the Sunday Times (Education Issue), I pulled myself away from my Saturday morning tradition of catching up with the new and headed for my computer. I had never heard this philosophy from Socrates before, but I think it goes without saying that it is a very powerful analogy of what is happening in our present day educational system.
In the article, No Child Left Untableted by Carlo Rotella, the author makes references to both sides of the story, be it pro or anti- tablet. I can relate to the following quote as I know my abundance of screen time is not what you would call healthy. “The overvaluing of technology and the undervaluing of people; the displacement of face-to-face interaction by virtual connection; the recasting of citizenship and inner life as a commodified data profile; the tendency to turn to the market to address social problems.” The article does a thorough job of covering the Amplify story, in regards to a preloaded tablet that they are being piloted to over 15,000 students in North Carolina.
Socrates also reminded me of another article I read recently, Googling Yourself Takes on a Whole New Meaning. This got me thinking once again. Are we really so misguided? Where is the COMMON SENSE? I am a veteran teacher and I know that there is no magic formula, no end all, be all, no quick fix for the current state of our educational system. The present day condition of our educational landscape has evolved over hundreds of years; in order to move forward its going to take more than just technology to fix it.
The article mentions how L.A. school districts laid off thousands of teachers and is now purchasing $500 million dollars on iPads! Who is making these decisions? What is wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you, it all boils down to the usual knee jerk reactions that bureaucracy is so fond of making. We need to plan better, we need to invest the money where it will have the greatest return. The common thread everywhere is, what about the teachers? What we need is the support and respect of our communities, rather than the grades based on a formula that makes no sense to begin with. I am a special education teacher, and 20% of my score as a teacher comes from how well my students do on standardized tests. Do you see the issue? Clearly there is a gap in the system. My students were placed in my classroom for a reason and lining them up next to their peers with the same evaluation tool is nothing short of ignorant and irresponsible. But then again it was Socrates who is credited with saying, I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
*This quote appeared in the N.Y. Times Education Issue, it was submitted to nytimes.com by Joel Gladd.
HERE are some previous blog posts that I thought should be referenced: