Disruptive Technology Does Not Fly in the Classroom

Classroom Learning: What to Expect this Decade?

Given the biological evolutionary timescale, The way we learn is unlikely to change very much in 10 years. I'm not trying to be facetious but believe we should keep this in mind as we look to improve (read: “change”) the educational experience of our children.

That said, how we teach is certain to evolve in a significantly shorter period. Even so, while the last century has seen significant changes in the way we educate our children, the similarities between most modern classrooms and one from the days of the Puritans are immediately identifiable. Clearly, however, there have been some important changes.

Changes in the classroom have historically evolved from changes in technology and/or changes in our understanding of how people actually learn. The steady disappearance, in the 1950s, of "hands-on" lab work resulting from the widespread adoption of photography in textbooks is an example of a technological impact. About a decade later, a movement to bring hands-on, physical experience back to the classroom was driven, at least in part, by changes in our understanding of the Human brain and how it functions—the beginnings of left-right brain and "multiple-intelligence" research.

Schools are generally (with some notable exceptions) very slow to adopt and adapt. The result of a number of factors such as budget, logistics (numbers), governance and forces of habit, the way schools teach tends to evolve more slowly than most other organizations. While myriad attempts continue to be made to measure the quality of a teacher, the bottom line is that most of us (including those charged with school governance) generally make judgments based on personal experience—experience that dates back to our own schooling.

As a side, we all seem to appreciate the qualities of uniquely gifted teachers. The movie industry seems uncannily adept at creating these characters. We recognize them; celebrate them; even respect them. Movies such as “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “Dead Poets Society” tempt our passion for learning and yet, almost without exception, in some sick reverence to our puritan interests, devastate these unique protagonists. In fact, it is rare to find any movie in which an educator—gifted by passion for teaching—does not die or is fired... Read More...