The Problem with 21st Century Learning

Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I was emailed a link to an article on Psychology Today which I admit I do not read very often. It was a guest post written by a teacher in British Columbia in Canada. While there are some differences between American and Canadian education both are driven by the 21st Century Learning agenda and adherence to a workforce development model.

First I wanted to highlight commentary by Dr. Veronica Dunckley who introduced the guest post:

High-stakes testing, obsessive data collection, and lofty promises of technology’s potential to “revolutionize” education are contributing to ever-increasing amounts of school-based screen-time. The invasion is occuring with complete disregard for what it taking away from in terms of basic developmental needs, as well as for screentime’s negative influence on nervous system health.Health and development risks aside, research suggests computer use in schools drags down test scores(link is external).

Why collect copious amounts of data if the process of data collection itself negatively impacts student performance? Or the ability to acquire real-life skills? Not surprisingly, when education policies are ineffective and impractical but continue to move forward like a freight train, what’s typically greasing the wheels is–you guessed it–money.

Tara Ehrcke, who teaches math in British Columbia, wrote:

Not surprisingly, technology is almost always identified as a component of 21st Century Learning. But this isn’t simply adding new technology to aid in the delivery of curriculum or to allow new teaching methods. It is not a matter of adding a few computer labs or replacing textbooks with eBooks.  In the 21st Century Learning model technology defines the learning methods. It is absolutely backwards – rather than pedagogy defining if and what technologies are used, instead, it is technology driving the choices for learning. As such, it is fundamentally different than the type of technology integration we’ve seen in the past. It is also, ironically, antithetical to a student-centred or personalized approach because the technology is driving decisions, not student needs.

The full article by Ehrcke can actually be found here. Psychology Today just highlighted an excerpt. Be sure to check it out.