Another dot in the blogosphere?

Refrain from refrains

Posted on: September 8, 2021

Video source 

There is a reason why they are called The Economist — they are not educationists! I would not venture into the world of economics and make claims based on what I Google or even what hear from someone I respect.

I wish that they (and others like them) would refrain from reinforcing these mythic buzzwords.

Within the first 20 seconds of the video, 2020 was called the year of disruption. Disruption is overused. If we are inconvenienced for a while and return to normal after that, that “disruption” was not one.

At the 2 minute 11 second mark, was the much vaunted “year of loss” because of school shutdowns. These are losses as measured only by tests and curriculum time. Already disenfranchised kids were disadvantaged further. But were there absolutely no gains, e.g., in resilience, independence, savvy? 

Roughly 4 minutes and 15 seconds into the video, the narrator claimed that edtech companies responded with apps and service. As few kind words as I have for mercenary vendors, it is unfair to say that they responded as if they reacted. No, many were already prepared and took advantage of emergency-based learning.

OMG, the video at 4 minutes and 25 seconds sees the mention of the “teacher had to suddenly become virtual”. Virtual is not the same as going online. Virtual means not real, e.g., a virtual world simulation like Second Life. Virtual reality, as oxymoronic as that sounds, refers to a simulated representation of the real world. Teachers are real and had real problems going fully online because they were not professionally developed to operate this way.

OK, take a deep breath… cleanse.

Thankfully, the video was not entirely misinformed. 

At the 7 minute 46 second mark, it introduced how some student teachers experience classroom  interactions with simulations. Unfortunately, this example was technological overkill — a person still had to take a microphone and role play student avatars. The avatars were not yet AI-driven. The simulation was a mere substitution of what teacher preparation programmes already do with role plays.

I wish that the segment was about preparing new teachers on how to do design and facilitate lessons with Zoom. At least this would start nurturing a generation of teachers who know how to operate in lockdowns or teach fully online.

And speaking of being fully online, you had to be 9 minutes and 10 seconds into the video to be asked: Do you need a classroom at all?

Maybe The Economist sought to placate the viewer with easy-to-swallow factoids first. The problem is this does not fit the title of the video (transform your kids’ education). There is nothing transformational about repeating disruption, year of less, or virtual teaching. 

A real transformation is less palatable. It is about challenging the status quo with better ways of doing things. It is about asking and answering difficult questions like: How do we address divides? What mindsets to we need to address? How do we sustain change?

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