Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Tech Elite's Quest to Reinvent School in its Own Image

Iansito, Karah
Tanz, J.  (2015, October 26).  The tech elite’s quest to reinvent school in its own image.
Wired.  Retrieved from
This article discusses the influence Salman Khan (of Khan Academy) and others in the tech elite have on curriculum, instruction, and assessment in today’s classrooms.  
Evaluation  (from my essay on the topic of curriculum and assessment)
In exploring the leading education theorists, I came across much having to do with Silicon Valley’s tech elite and their status as education theorists, or at the very least, their huge influence on curriculum in the 21st century classroom.  This is a topic that both fascinates and infuriates me.  I think there are undoubtedly good ideas that can come from those outside of the education field, but our society’s preoccupation with a silver bullet for all that ails the system can be maddening. Too often, this “silver bullet” comes from the corporate world, and is really just a thinly veiled money grab at the students, teachers, and families expense.  In any case, I finally got around to learning more about the undeniably impressive Salman Khan and his Khan Academy.  This led me to see what Khan is up to lately, which led me to an article written about eighteen months ago about Khan’s first brick and mortar school.  I was inspired.  Not because of all the fancy tech, or the fact that there is a thirty minute mindfulness session daily, but because of the school’s attitude.  If there is one thing public education could use, it’s a good old-fashioned attitude adjustment.  (I need to say here to assuage my own guilt at feeling like a traitor to my team:  It is not an easy job to educate publicly the future generation.  Not at all easy.  I will leave it at that for now.)  I have long held the assumption that if my lesson doesn’t go perfectly, the whole thing should go in the trash bin and I should start all over, by myself, from scratch.  But reading this article helped me to look at the experience of designing lessons and working through them as collaborative and experimental, and why not?  It is one of those things that as I type the words here makes so much sense, and I am left wondering why I hadn’t thought of it this way all along.  One of the people working with Khan said of experimenting,

‘It turns a liability of innovation into an incredible gift for students. They’re teaching them how to work in the 21st century workplace.’ In other words, sometimes you don’t break eggs to make a perfect omelet. Sometimes, the whole point is just breaking the eggs. (Tanz, 2015)
I love this attitude towards experimentation.  It speaks to many things we’ve been exploring in this class as well--the ideas surrounding project based learning and student centered learning, for example, as well as the critical importance of reflection after the lesson or unit is “done.”  I am very excited about this topic of curriculum and assessment, which is so fascinating because it was the one I thought I knew the most about when I set up my reading plan.  

1 comment:

  1. Damn, this is the best article I have read. You are right on point and I love the attitude adjustment not only for the mindset of ourselves but of others and how to turn a negative into an absolute positive. Great writing and I am so glad you decided to break some eggs.