Welcome To The Future?

Source: Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story – NYTimes.com.

The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008. On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years ago. Attendance is up, dropouts are down. Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates.

I know change is difficult for all, especially us seniors sometimes. So, to read this article and learn that students are learning from applications on their MacBook Airs in addition to a live teacher can be very disconcerting. But as a retired information technology engineer I can understand why it works. The internet has opened up the information superhighway to just about anyone with a connection. There is almost nothing that we can’t start learning with just a few keystrokes. What used to take hours researching in a twenty four volume encyclopedia now takes seconds with a keyboard.

One of the main advantages of this type of process is that each student can learn at their own pace.  I can still remember my grade school days (yeah even that  long ago 🙂 ) when I would get quite bored because the teacher had to go through the same lesson several times in order to make sure every kid in the class understand. I was an impatient kid, something I have never grown out of I guess, so sitting there with nothing to stimulate me drove me to boredom beyond my imagination. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have, on my own, moved on to the next lesson. I think I would have gotten much more out of the classroom time.

But, just like everything else involving change, especially paradigm change as this story approaches,  it will be resisted quite adamantly by some in the educational community. Change just comes harder for some than for others. Of course there will always be lessons that must be learned that can’t be put on a computer screen. Those lessons will continue to require a passionate well informed mentor teacher. But the daily grind stuff that students can learn at their own pace is better done by other methods.

So many kids today are much more fluent in this sort of thing than their parents ever dreamed. I think the parents and especially grand-parents will have a harder time accepting this new way of learning than the kids ever will. According to the article the kids at Mooresville take it in stride.