November 11, 2010
I am struck this morning by the wording that summarizes the final version of the National Education Technology Plan released a few days about by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Download the Executive Summary or the full plan)
The NETP focuses on individualized instruction and connectivity as well as technology enhanced learning for teachers and students as important and effective ways to prepare students for higher schooling as well as work and citizenship in a globally connected world.
In all the places I go, the message is rather loud and consistent, that is, coming from the speakers and presenters: technology, connectivity, creativity, consume and produce information, prepare for work life, process skills overarch content. Yet, I am also struck by the numbers of people, and sadly many independent school leaders, still trying to change, negate, or deny the conversation. The ...yeah, but...chorus is alive and well, and I believe, morally repugnant when you consider that our mission is to prepare kids for their futures, not our pasts.
The NETP outlines five goals:
1. using educational technology to fundamentally change the learning process by making it more engaging and tailored to individual student needs and interests;
2. using ed tech to develop a new generation of assessments;
3. connecting teachers with their peers and experts so they are always up-to-date on the resources available to them;
4. building infrastructure that lets schools support access to technology in and out of the classroom;
5. harnessing the power of educational technology to increase school district productivity and student achievement.
“If we accomplish all of these goals, we’ll have realized the advance potential for technology to prepare students for success in the internationally competitive, knowledge-based economy,” Duncan said.
These goals outlined by the NETP are solid and right-headed. Why not structure a meaty and bold conversation about these goals: where are we with these philosophically? what is story of what these goals look like fully implemented at our school? what would have to be true in our mindsets, our structures, our leadership, our faculty and staff culture and habits, our parents' understanding, our board leadership, and our daily life for the story of this goal fully implemented to be true? where are we now? where do we start to apply pressure, influence, and expectations?
That would be a constructive and bold conversation. A conversation that would be best informed by imagination and creative thinking that is grounded in knowledge, possibility, and the moral imperative of doing what is right for children.
The wrong way to have this conversation: appoint a committee. A committee is the place good ideas go to be tortured, then die.