After reading 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools by Ingvi Hrannar as part of an assignment for a graduate class, I would like to comment on each point from a private elementary school teacher’s perspective. After looking at this list, I feel extremely fortunate to teach at a small private school that has the flexibility, resources and support to provide the technology and authentic learning that allows students to thrive.
1. Computer Rooms
Perhaps it is not the computer room that is obsolete but, how it is being used? Our school has a room with twenty desktop computers that are relatively current. We do require students to take keyboarding mostly because one of the better private middle schools we feed in to requires certain documented proficiencies.
The room is mostly used for more productive learning including Microsoft Office, Internet reseach skills and graphics programs. We also have an IT class for the upper grades with a curriculum that includes website design and app building.
Not all schools can afford new hardware or software but, they should be maximizing the resources at hand.
2. Isolated classrooms
We should never isolate a classroom from knowledge or perspective and should provide an opportunity for engaging parents to actively participate in classroom activities. Every parent has a life experience that could bring value to the classroom.
3. Schools that don’t have WiFi
I will be the biggest champion for this point. A lack of WiFi contributes to the aforementioned isolation and deprives the educational process from the necessary technologies to help students learn, compete and excel in today’s world.
A quality WiFi system is the most important infrastructure investment any school can make. Most manufacturers offer substantial discounts to schools. Without a capable WiFi infrastructure, a BYOD initiative is a non starter.
4. Banning phones and tablets
As an elementary school, we do have a policy against cell phones but, we do provide tablets and this year sponsored a BYOD program for our new 6th grade curriculum. We also provide the apps and training for the teachers as well as students.
5. Tech director with an administrator access
Having a gatekeeper to technology is never a good idea. Schools should have a committee made up of the most tech savvy people on staff. Teachers should be empowered to decide what apps and resources they need for their classrooms.
6. Teachers that don’t share what they do
Schools should be communities where teachers willingly share successful ideas freely. Not doing so fosters a mediocracy.
7. Schools that don’t have Facebook or Twitter
Done properly, social media is a great way to build community and reach out to parents. Getting an update during the school day about something involving their child really makes a parent happy!
8. Unhealthy cafeteria food
We now know enough about proper nutrition that poor quality food is inexcusable regardless of resources. Children cannot be at their potential without the proper nutrients and, the childhood obesity problem in this country should be a wake up call to parents and administrators.
9. Starting school at 8 o’clock for teenagers
Since I teach elementary school, I am not experienced to speak on this. Based on my personal recollections from high school however, later would be better.
10. Buying poster-, website- and pamphlet design for the school
All creative work should be done in house. This provides an opportunity for staff and students to participate in the process and contribute creativity. As educators, if we are not creative we have no business being teachers.
11. Traditional libraries
Most books are available digitally now, so a library needs to reflect current technology.
12. All students get the same
Teaching to the lowest or average common denominator is the major flaw in many public school systems. Students will always be at different levels with different learning styles and different strengths. They all should be able to reach their potential. While not leaving any student behind may be well intentioned, mediocrity is the unintended consequence.
13. One-Professional development-workshop-fits-all
Teachers should have the flexibility to choose their continuing education.
14. Standardized tests to measure the quality of education
Standardized testing has fostered a “Teaching to the test” curriculum that has done more harm than good. Instead of creating authentic learning, these classrooms operate in the myopic bubble of a test that was obsolete in the first place.
Hrannar, I. (2014). 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://ingvihrannar.com/14-things-that-are-obsolete-in-21st-century-schools/