There was always something brand new that our schools rolled out while we were stuck in a classroom. Whether it was school-wide whiteboards or the introduction of 1:1 iPads, schools were and are constantly transforming.
However, the introduction of technology into the classroom has largely been geared around improving the quality of the existing content, not changing the curriculum to keep up with a technology-centric economy.
This is an oversight. Our education system should prioritize getting students ready for a more technology-driven economy.
The 1:1 Initiative and Technology Integration
Since the invention of the computer—and even the television—it’s been a question in the back of everyone’s mind: When will we be able to technologically outsource teachers? The resources are there. If every student in the school has a district appointed computer or iPad in their hands with the entire internet and the worlds’ knowledge at their fingertips, it would seem that teachers are going to be out on the streets looking for daycare jobs quicker than they can say “homework.” Well, maybe they’ll even have problems with that.
More and more schools are also putting SMART Boards in their classroom, and many are saying that they aren’t worth it. They’re all show and no grow(th of the mind, that is.) They’re cool to have and easy to use, but some people suggest that having a touch screen in front of the classroom is no better than having a mouse on a desk.
A Change in Curriculum for Changing Times
Computer science and statistics have been two of the fastest growing college majors in the United States. More and more people are seeing opportunities in coding and statistical analysis than ever before because the economy is moving in a tech-oriented direction. It’s even possible now to teach yourself how to code. Students should be learning how to survive in this economy and learn more applicable skills for their future.
Lay down your pitchforks, liberal arts teachers, I’m not saying you’re irrelevant. You still matter. But it’s time to ask the question if there should be a fifth discipline added to the major four (Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science.) The nation’s schools should ramp up and require students incorporate technology studies to their every-day routine.
Some schools in Chicago are already on it. There are also plenty of “coding clubs” set up in many schools throughout the nation which gives students a chance to learn how the internet and computers work in an after-school setting.
There doesn’t seem to be a downside, it’s incredibly difficult to find anyone actually against the integration of coding in the classroom, but most schools are set in their standards (usually determined by the Common Core) and don’t want to waiver from those standards. So, instead of teaching students how to create their own e-portfolio website for future employers to look through, we’re helping them close read Hamlet and Slaughterhouse-Five.
Yes, reading fiction leads to higher levels of empathy and I would be pretty disappointed if I wasn’t able to continue my profession as an English teacher, but as a nation we need to be teaching students what we believe is important. If it’s a standards problem, then we need to change the standards.
School is important. I wouldn’t have spent all four of my bachelor degree years studying to be an English teacher if I thought that teaching children English wasn’t important. What we’re asking isn’t “Is what we’re teaching not important?” but rather “Are there important things that also need to be taught?” The answer seems to be an overwhelming “Yes.”
Times change. If schools don’t update, we’re only hurting ourselves by keeping future programmers and tech wizards from realizing the potential they don’t know they have.