Foisted Technology: A Silly Waste, Bad Pedagogy Too

What follows is a response by Alan November to a comment left for Gary Stager at Tech Learning regarding a post Gary wrote about White Boards and how we don't really need them.

Alan November, a seasoned educator himself, says White Boards are awesome because he once saw a Harvard professor use one well.

The following is most of the comment, but not all of it....(go to the link about Gary's post)
I have no reason to doubt that the Harvard Professor you mention is anything but a fabulous teacher. However, the differences between a primary classroom and a Harvard University lecture hall are too numerous to list. I trust that his students also get to DO physics, not just watch it.

Would you not agree that our scarce resources and attention would be better invested in empowering learners, rather than delivering content and testing recall?

Does it concern you how notions of interaction and engagement have been cheapened by for-profit corporations?

Have you seen the ridiculous IWB demos and claims made by the vendors? Surely, you have seen the terrible curricular materials purchased from the white board companies when administrators panic because teachers aren't using the white boards they never asked for? The arrogance of the IWB companies is only rivaled by their profits and ignorance about how learning occurs.

Of course I appreciate how good disadvantaged students feel beating the AP exam. That hardly justifies either the AP test, course or IWB purchase without questioning their moral value or educational efficacy. This is especially true when some of the wealthiest schools and districts are abandoning the AP because of how it narrows educational opportunity and furthers the descent into endless test preparation.

Alan, I've heard you tell countless audiences how school is irrelevant, must change immediately and even how teachers are in the way of educational progress. Surely, this stance requires one to question the value of Algebra instruction, especially when it comes to making a child with learning challenges endure the subject?

Social interaction hardly requires an interactive white board or game show device especially when the single greatest infraction committed in classrooms is "talking in class." Reinforcing the dominance of the front of the room, at considerable financial expense, hardly makes learning more social. Research and experience teaches us that knowledge construction is more social when every kid has their own personal laptop along with agency over what and how they learn.

I have no doubt that you and your friends can work magic with an IWB. You probably should have one. That hardly justifies their lemming-like adoption by schools.

My work is focused on addressing the the growing power imbalance between adults and children. I prefer to sit next to students and learn with them, rather than deliver content from the front of the room.

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