We couldn’t think of a better headline to describe this New York Times essay by Boston College professor Carlo Rotella so we just stole it. It’s a long, we think must-read piece on the attempts of media mogul Rupert Murdoch to get tablets into every child’s hands…complete with curriculum and software created and sold by his company, Amplify. If you want to get a sense of the complexities of the moment, take the time to read it. But understand, we’re not at all convinced that tabletizing every child with a pre-loaded curriculum is anywhere near what’s best for kids in this self-organized, connected learning world.
If you want to know more about why we object, strenuously, read on.
Maybe I’m just a purist, or maybe I am starting at the wrong end, but I thought we all agreed, many, many years ago this was meant to be first and foremost about learning. I thought we agreed the only place to start was with a clearly articulated vision of how kids learn, and then from that we could build out extraordinary possibilities for a child having 24/7 access to their own computer… to use as Gary Stager says as “ an intellectual laboratory and a vehicle for self-expression.”..or as Alan Kay expressed so many years ago as “an instrument whose music is ideas’. I saw none of that in the shallow examples outlined in the Times article, nor in the many similar stories I have come across recently about the “tabletization’ of learning.
Our priorities are not the priorities of companies like Amplify and others who are seeking to leverage the momentum to 1 to 1 for their own commercial gain.
There’s nothing wrong with profit, in fact in most cases it’s a very good thing. But why can’t companies that set their profit sights on education, and that are massively over endowed with funding and influence focus on the things that really matter…like how kids learn; like effective pedagogy; like the possibilities of the future and not the traditional practices of the past?
You don’t use technology to control kids, it’s meant to be about liberating learners. That means new thinking about trust, new roles for new contexts, and new models for learning, for schooling and …for doing business with schools.
This is not a time for ‘oh, well, we tried’…it’s a time to stand up and speak out. It’s the time for educators across the globe to take the lead in the public debate around education and the unprecedented opportunities technology offers our young learners, to ensure they reach the bold and ambitious heights we’ve aspired to for them for so long.
Wondering what you think.