Technology Teachers and Myths, School Education
TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS AND MYTHS
Technology teachers, their education websites and journals frequently portray teaching methods of the pre-internet era as ‘obsolete’. Teachers still use pre-internet teaching methods. And all are savagely criticized as outdated.
Examples of these views can be found at this website. Here is the link:
What is ‘obsolete’ in their view are methods involving
- teaching from paper-based materials;
- teachers talking to a class from the front of the room; and
- students learning facts and memorizing content.
What is embedded in the articles is the condescending notion that teachers talk for long periods and bore their students, and that students still are learning by rote without any thinking involved. They state that kids in classrooms copy without thought.
In fact, I’m not sure if these Technology teachers in schools are talking about the nineteenth or the twenty-first century. Even in the 1970s, students were learning in a variety of ways, such as
- whole-class instruction at the beginning of a lesson,
- individual learning, and
- group work and practicals.
How much do these Technology instructors and teachers think we can fit into a 40 or 50 minute lesson anyway? The younger the children are, the shorter each learning project must be. As children get older and move into secondary school their capacity increases for taking on learning projects over extended periods.
Primary School Priorities
Let’s get the priorities right.
It is a priority for young children to learn to read and write. If this involves copying, that’s okay because young kids enjoy it. They get practice in letter and number shapes, they strengthen their hands, and develop their fine motor skills.
It is a priority for children to learn their times tables. They enjoy memorising them and feel the achievement – because after memorising them they find it much easier to calculate.
This link will take you to an early post on this website that explains the importance of learning to hand-write, not just for its pragmatic objectives but for how it affects and functions in the brain, called Hand-Writing Is An Intellectual Activity.
Results Of This Method
Often, understanding comes after memorisation. Children need facts to manipulate in their minds. Facts are the meat in the sandwich. They find it interesting that an ant colony can have several queens and a bee hive only one queen. They need a presentation of facts from which to springboard into their own learning. The point of learning to read is to open the door to information. By presenting children with information to start with, we are turning the key and the handle for them.
So, when they have done the memorising; getting their sums right; learning how to organise their table space, their paperwork and drawings – then they are ready for everything that the Technolgoy teachers can present. Proposed changes to curricula involving teaching children to do coding is a great step forward. It is not a corollary of this, however, that pencils and paper are obsolete.
How Children Think
What looks like boring old stuff for Technology teachers in schools is really fascinating, challenging and fun for primary school children.
Nor do the older students learn by rote, listen to long boring lectures from teachers, or copy without understanding or purpose. If an older student is ‘bored’ it is just possible that he was enticed by the latest technology to reinvent the wheel for himself at primary school, and it got bogged in the mud. It is possible the older students didn’t learn their times tables years before when it fun so they can’t cope with their maths. So maths becomes ‘boring’.
I think some Technology teachers may be projecting their own prejudices upon today’s teachers and students, and do so with images of other teaching methods — as if anything that doesn’t involve an ipad is out of date. It’s a wonder they haven’t brought the cane into their picture.