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Business - Written by on Thursday, June 11, 2009 19:44 - 5 Comments

Kevin Morris
A teacher’s view on the education crisis

I still keep in touch with a handful of teachers from high school. One of those teachers, Mike Perosevic, taught me grade 11 economics and always seemed to push the envelope when it came to innovative teaching methods. Integrating SMART boards, classroom wikis and discussion-based lessons, Mike challenged his students (and still does) to take initiative, collaborate with others and develop a real love of learning. I have been a technology lover since my dad brought home our family’s first Apple II computer, but Mr. P played a big role in my appreciation for technology and collaboration.

Don’s post yesterday, “Will universities stay relevant?”, sparked some interesting discussion around the idea that our education system is in crisis. Given Mike’s innovative perspective on teaching, I sent him the article and asked for his feedback. To be clear, Don addressed the university system and Mike’s perspective comes from teaching high school, but I still thought it would be interesting to hear what his experience has been like in the classroom.

With his permission, I’ve posted some of his email response here, which he also published on his blog “Teaching, Technology & More“:

“You must understand that students like yourself are not the norm in terms of being in touch with the digital world and having the passion to use the tools available to them in the pursuit of knowledge.  Most of these students head off to university (and our new inflated grading system is making it easier) with little self-initiative and passion for learning.  I have been using technology in the classroom for 3 years now but I still fall back to the lecture style often because most of my students are not mature enough to embrace student-directed project based learning.

That being said, the first two years of university (as I recall them) are designed to “weed out” those who really do not belong, so to speak.  Although most of my professors in the 80′s and early 90′s used the lecture style, their classrooms became more open to critical thought and discussion after second year.  From what I am told, this is still the case.

Right now, I have reached a point in my classroom where I cannot proceed any further with student-driven methods due to lack of technology and support.  We do not have the bandwidth nor the requisite hardware in place to allow students to develop their critical thinking skills using web based applications.

I sympathize with the universities somewhat.  Many of these professors grew up without technology and are now being pushed to adopt it.  The process will take time and embracing a digital pedagogy does not ensure critical thinking skills will be developed.  The passion for learning must come from the students and that passion is something that transcends generations.

What I mean to say is students, like yourself, who have a passion for learning always embrace the latest technology the world has to offer to enhance their critical thinking skills and understanding of concepts.  The fact that you are using Twitter, etc. to accomplish this is no different than a student in the early 1980′s using one of the first computers to be more productive or a student in the 1950′s using a slide rule to do the same.

We need to work on fueling the passion for learning if we want to produce a generation of critical thinkers.  I try to use technology to inspire students to become passionate about knowledge.  The technology on its own is merely a conduit to critical thinking.  The passion for learning must come from within.”


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Jun 11, 2009 20:03

Excellent post. We need to produce adroit students with the resources to critically engage in society. Technological limitations within the secondary classroom can stifle learning, but a lack of passion for learning within the classroom culture can absolutely stunt learning.

Web Media Daily – Friday June 12, 2009 | Reinventing Yourself...
Jun 12, 2009 6:20

[...] A teacher’s view on the education crisis [...]

Don Tapscott
Jun 15, 2009 16:36

Mike, I would say that Kevin was lucky to have you as a teacher. If only we had more teachers with your insight and zeal. You are absolutely right when you say that “the technology on its own is merely a conduit to critical thinking. The passion for learning must come from within.”

In the longer essay on the Edge, I quote Seymour Papert, one of the world’s foremost experts on how technology can provide new ways to learn: “The scandal of education is that every time you teach something, you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.”

Students hit a brick pedagogical wall when they enter university and find themselves in lecture halls filled with 300 other classmates. Young people are our greatest hope for solving many of the problems my generation have created, and yet we squander this resource by denying them the proper tools for thinking and creativity.

Jun 24, 2009 22:54

I sat with a group of teachers today (I am a secondary principal) in their year end department meeting and I was truly humbled by their passion for teaching …yes, they were excited about new ways to incorporate the budding technology, but what impressed me most (and has from most of these people) is that they value their connections with their students the most, not their smartboard, their blogs or their podcasts nor their subjects per se.
For students that come to us with motivation and excitement to learn will do so despite “poor” teaching or lack of resources including those technological, but the number one and, I might argue, ONLY thing that truly and consistently reaches disengaged students is a caring teacher….it’s that connection that some teachers strive to make and the connections to learning and to the student’s lives that make the greatest difference for them. Caring and passion cost nothing. One of the newest and youngest members of the team made a point that in teaching they all get paid the same so why is it that some (and definitely this group) and many for that matter, strive so hard to reach their students, all their students?
On another related note, why is it that the model of secondary education we still have today is based on the university model? So much of the foundation of learning, the courses, the time mandated to earn a “credit,” the physical structure of schools and classrooms…all built for those students who were not going to stay on the farm, but after grade 8 were going to pursue studies in law, medicine, business or teaching….i.e. university.
Today, in our province of Ontario, less than 25% of the students we teach go to university…something is not right here!

Love this conversation!

Mr. Teacher
Jun 30, 2009 3:14

Education is very less attention from the parties should consider that education is a very educational crisis.
Education is the responsibility of all parties, not just teachers, parents, schools, government. However, all parties are obliged to support education.

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Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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