Thoughts on “Things that have become obsolete in schools”

“To try to teach ignoring technology is to ignore the progress that we have made over the last century. If school is preparation for the real world…then to ignore technology is to become obsolete” (Svitak, 2015).

In his blog post, Ingvi Omarsson, lists “14 things” that he believes are obsolete in the 21st century classroom (2014).   As a classroom teacher, I understand that classrooms, schools, curriculum, strategies, assessments, learning activities, and policies must be quite the opposite of obsolete in order to reach the changing face of today’s student, where media is abundant and technology isn’t just a tool—it’s a way of life. That is, in education, we must strive always to be relevant. It is this relevance that reaches and engages students and brings about the kind of learning needed in 21st century world and workplace.

Can we say then that everything we’ve done is the past is obsolete and to be relevant we must change all aspects of schools and education as it is or has been? I try to answer these questions for myself as I consider Omarsson’s blog post (2014) and his “14 things.” Here I share Omarsson’s list and my thoughts on whether or not I agree with his vision:

  1. Computer roomsDisagree. While I do agree that taking a class to a computer lab once in a while to access a specific site or to complete a specific activity does little to promote technological literacy, I do believe that these rooms serve a purpose (particularly in today’s computer-based standardized testing). I do agree that having more computers in the classrooms is more important for the students
  2. Isolated classroomsAgree and disagree. I agree that parents and other educators and staff should be welcome in the classroom. I also believe that disruptions should be kept to a minimum. If we are to open our classrooms up to visitors, we should establish protocols and appropriate times for doing so, because the last thing we want is to interfere with student learning.
  3. Schools that don’t have wifi Agree. If we are to promote students utilizing their own devices in the classroom, when appropriate and necessary to do so, schools must be equipped to provide the needed wifi access.
  4. Banning phones and tabletsAgree. While I don’t think cell phones and tablets or other devices should be out and used at all times in the classroom, I do believe that there are appropriate times for their use and their use can promote learning in the classroom.
  5. Tech director with an administrator accessAgree. While it is important to have a tech person on campus who can troubleshoot problems with computers and other technology, it is also important to have a person who helps teachers to integrate technology in the classroom.
  6. Teachers that don’t share what they doAgree. We are all in the business of educating students and helping them to succeed at a level that meets their potential. Why then would we not share ideas and strategies that are working for us in our classrooms? Teachers need to move out of their four walls and do more to collaborate with their peers. I have found that collaboration not only helps the students but also lightens the workload of the individual teacher.
  7. Schools that don’t have a Facebook or TwitterAgree. I do believe schools should have a Facebook and/or Twitter presence, where parents can more easily stay informed about the happenings of the school and connect with other parents.
  8. Unhealthy cafeteria foodAgree. I think it’s time to move away from the cheaper, low nutrition foods and toward healthier options. Otherwise, we are encouraging and promoting poor dietary habits.
  9. Starting school at 8 o’clock for teenagersAgree. Having experienced a school district that used research findings about teens and learning to alter the school start times, I have seen students at the middle and high school levels perform better because they are learning at time when, biologically, they are functioning, physically and cognitively, at a higher level.
  10. Buying poster-, website- and pamphlet design for the schoolDisgree. While I believe it is great to get students involved in logo and banner design, incorporating art and technology, I also believe that we can’t necessarily involve our students in everything and that some times the time and cost plays a bigger role in these types of needs.
  11. Traditional librariesAgree. I agree that libraries should be “alive” with much more technology available for students, with the training students need to use such technology. Quiet areas for reading and for research, along with space for student collaboration and rooms for video production and editing would bring the library toward being a true “media” and collaboration center.
  12. All students get the sameAgree. While I do believe in that the current system of students placed in grade levels by their age, I also believe that differentiating instruction is the key to insuring students get the level of content and challenge level needed based on their ability.
  13. One-Profession development-workshop-fits-allAgree. Having sat through mandatory faculty trainings that are more geared toward another curriculum area, I felt frustrated and that my time could have been better spent attending a training of my choice, one that I could actually apply to my own content area. I agree with giving teachers the ability to control their own professional development. Choice alone would energize and engage teachers in professional learning.
  14. Standardized test to measure the quality of educationAgree. One test on one day as a “one size fits all” measure of learning is an inadequate and incomplete picture of the learning and progress taken place over the course of a school year.

I appreciate that this blog post gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own beliefs about what is and isn’t obsolete in our schools today.  It was also interesting that not all obsolescence has to do with technology, as we might be quick to think.

Please feel free to comment on my post and offer your own beliefs and insights.

Omarsson, I. (2014). 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools. Retrieved January 22, 2015, from http://ingvihrannar.com/14-things-that-are-obsolete-in-21st-century-schools/

Svitak, A. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved January 22, 2015, from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adora_svitak.html

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Things that have become obsolete in schools”

  1. “Having experienced a school district that used research findings about teens and learning to alter the school start times, I have seen students at the middle and high school levels perform better because they are learning at time when, biologically, they are functioning, physically and cognitively, at a higher level.”

    Hi Lynn,

    It seems as if high school start times are a perennial flaw in the ointment for kids, parents and teachers. I’m in agreement with you, and find your post so interesting because you’ve “been there, done that” in a district which changed the rules. How did you see change — and how did the change work logistically? Was there still time for sports and clubs and all of the things that make high school bearable/fun for many kids? “No time for extracurriculars” always seems to be the argument against later start times. In my district, most high schools start at 7:15, which is crazy. Kids are going to stay up late no matter what time they have to get up — that’s the way they’re wired, and as a parent, the worry about them driving sleep deprived is terrible.

    “I agree with giving teachers the ability to control their own professional development. Choice alone would energize and engage teachers in professional learning.”

    I agree. Giving anyone a say in their own education and development — teachers or students — will always increase their attention and desire to learn.

    By the way, love the Adora Svitak quote at the head of your piece. I posted a link to her TED talk on Twitter if you haven’t seen it yet. What a sharp kid! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN79Qyddsf0

    Like

    1. Robin,
      My old school district was actually pretty quick to follow the advice of research and change the school starts times for elementary, middle, and high school. Yes; there was a lot of complaining from parents, particularly about their youngest students being at bus stops earlier in the morning and arriving home before their older siblings. There were complaints about transportation for students who parents had to be at work well before their child’s school start time. I, personally, experienced that problem. In the end, the school district held firm, offered extended before and after care at the schools and in some cased offered “morning school” for students arriving on campus early and “pay for busing” for students within the two mile limit (where their was available space). And, eventually, the parents (myself included) and students adjusted and figured out ways to make it work, because we learned that it wasn’t going to change back any time soon. Parents figured out ways to get their kids to and from school. Schools figured out ways to accommodate parents and students. And, students adjusted to these new start times and now none are old enough to remember it being any other way. I think, as with anything new or with any change, taking the first step is the hardest.

      Thanks so much for your input and feedback to my post.

      Like

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