“Learning the way they’re living”

The title is in quotes, because I lifted it from dharter’s blog, Thinking Allowed…who in turn quoted it from Pa. schools say high-school laptop program works so far, as a rebuttal against the NY Times article, Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops… (phew – that was complicated :))

“They have laptops at home, iPods, cell phones … and then we have them open up a social-studies textbook and ask them to outline a chapter,” [Superintendent] Frantz said. “They’re not learning the way they’re living.”

I tried to post a comment to this on Thinking Allowed, but it somehow did not work…so I’ll comment here instead :)

I think that Superintendent Frantz understands the big picture completely when he says, “They’re not learning the way they are living”. This is true as a big idea and not only with regards to how or why technology is being used.

In Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys by Michael Smith and Jeff Wilhelm they talk about how students (boys) are considered illiterate based on school standards, but they do read, for example manuals on Chevy fixing, when it is purposeful and relevant to their lives. What we need to do is find out what is relevant to their lives and make their learning in school as meaningful as possible based on that context, by creating connections so they can learn the way they live.

As an educator that is what I am, a connection maker – between my students’ lives and the technologies I am teaching them to use: laptops, web 2.0 tools, books – whatever the technology is I need to make it relevant within their contexts, not mine.

So yes, throw laptops out the window, BUT ONLY if you are not ready to show teachers how to make connections between their students and the technology, because if a teacher can do that…WOW, you’d be throwing a powerful learning tool out the window.

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