Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog Post 10

a toothbrush made up of pencils
The ideas expressed by both Dan Brown and Morgan Bayda are evidence of a lack of education in institutional based learning. The discontent that these individuals experience fostered undoubtedly impacted their faith in modern institutional instruction, and in Dan’s case caused him to abandon the process altogether. Normally this would be the part of my post where I explain how technology, and most importantly the things we are learning in EDM 310 class, is the cure for what ails the current system. Instead I would like to react to the general argument made by these two individuals with an idea that does not even broach the topic of technology, but deals with outdated pedagogy. The ultimate complaint here is a lack of interaction among students, and subsequently a lack of stimulation, in the traditional classroom setting. This has nothing to do with technology or its use in the classroom; this is a problem that would present itself in even the most technologically integrated classroom if the traditional power structure on which education has been predicated continues to go by unchanged. My own experiences have found instances of the same complaints made by Brown and Bayda, but often times those classrooms were some of the best technologically equipped, and often times implemented, in the college of arts and sciences, but the best “education” I have experienced thus far came in classroom that consisted of one textbook and 24 other students. We never used a smart board or power point, or even notebook paper if one was so inclined. What we did have was a remarkable instructor who was eager to learn with us; an individual who was willing to listen to how we interpreted the seminal works of literature we encountered throughout the semester rather than rely on centuries of scholarly research. He would listen to what we had to say, and use those interpretations and feelings to direct us toward an understanding of the scholarly interpretations while never demeaning how we felt about the work. This zeal for using our predisposed knowledge and ability to formulate opinions to convey what we needed to know is what inspired me to pursue a career in education. Needless to say I acknowledge that not all students in the classroom felt the same as I did about the experience, but this brings me to a problem that I would like to address regarding the comments made in this post and video, especially in the statements made by Mr. Brown. In the video Brown states that traditional institutional instruction is not adequately preparing students for their future jobs. While this argument does have some volition, it points out a critical flaw among the youth of the information age; these youths want to learn, and subsequently work, how they want. A sense of extreme self entitlement is a flaw that will affect so many young people throughout there lives, especially in the workforce. Traditional institutional education methods are preparation for meeting expectations in the workplace, and teaching one to conduct themselves appropriately in such an environment. Brown cites that the landscape of corporate America is changing, even sighting Google as an example, but such examples only represent a fraction of corporate America. Many of the experiences students have in the workplace will still resemble Dilbert, and therefore must be prepared to deal with such an environment and the expectations that come with it. Ultimately the sentiments of discontent among both Bayda and Brown point to larger problems among institutions than whether students can twitter one another or blog about the use of computers in History class, but instead point to a contradiction in methods and expectations; only when those two opposing viewpoints are brought into some type of balance can the discontent be addressed. Perhaps I am missing the point behind the Don’t Let Them Take Pencils Home post by Tom Johnson, but it seems to me that the real issue here is the idiocracy surrounding the “pencils”. If any method does not fit into the optimal test taking data for students, many administrators, and sadly teachers, see it as a danger to performance. This is the crux of the problem in the capitalist bureaucracy surrounding education; if it does not help funding, which is determined by standardized testing, it should be eliminated. These aims are in an effort to deprive children of the education they need to provide social mobility. The businesses that fund education have a vested interest in keeping certain sectors of the population “dumb” in order to drive worker compensation down. By putting so much importance on standardized testing, we have ensured that any real educational endevours have no place in the classroom.


  1. I like how you interpreted the video and your viewpoints on it. I also enjoyed how you made it your own by adding a story about a professor that really inspired you. I think we all have these stories about the good and the bad ones that we have had along the way. I do think the one thing the professors that made a positive impact in our lives have in common is passion. Without passion, you will never be the influential teacher that we should all strive to be.

    I really enjoyed the post about pencils because the teacher made a great point about how not everything should be surrounded around standardized testing. This is something that has our education system so messed up right now because if it doesn't have to do with the testing then we shouldn't allow it in the classroom. I think if we walked away from this mindset we would be able to teach our kids in a more efficient way.

  2. "What we did have was a remarkable instructor who was eager to learn with us..." An essential ingredient! I hope you will ( and will be able to) practice this when you teach. Brittany is also correct when she says passion is important. So be passionate about your teaching.

    Excellent commentary.

    It seems that you did not understand that Tom Johnson's post Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home was a metaphor in which pencils were computers. I will complete my post Metaphors: What They Are and Why We Use Them (A Learning Opportunity) later this week. After this post appears on the Class Blog you will be required to leave a comment. Watch the Class Blog for further instructions.