To overcome in any battle, the intelligent tactician will attempt to attack the enemy at multiple, strategic, barriers to entry. Which is why I’m so impressed with Marc Prensky’s latest fronts in this, the war on educational boredom.
In his March 2008 article entitled Turn on the Lights, Prensky ensues with many of the arguments he has previously utilized, this time, however, customizing his attack toward a far more influential audience: School administrators. Combined with a larger offensive from our students, I think that helping administrators to better understand the importance of educational shift is absolutely vital if we are, indeed, to realize such a shift in pedagogical mindset. For this battle really isn’t about technology, or a flattening world, or even improved classroom instruction. It’s about money. Just like it’s always been. Control the money and you control education.
It’s that simple.
Which is exactly why Prensky’s efforts should not go unnoticed. As far as I can tell, the administrators are key because they, along with our friendly neighborhood legislators - aka those powerful puppets that ofttimes dangle in the hands of the parents of our students - control the purse strings.
To encourage change among educational administration, Prensky has highlighted nine principles that, if given due attention, would effectively change any educational institution.
Prensky’s Principals for PrincipalsAbandoning my current thoughts about a global teach-in, I think our next war effort would be most effective if some sort of large-scale assault were to come from our students. Hey kids, ever heard of a sit-in?
- Announce that henceforth students will have a meaningful voice in setting all school policy regarding technology use. Hold assemblies that include teachers, students, parents, administrators, and technologists to hear all points of view and establish school policies regarding such issues as blocked Web sites and use of cell phones.
- Make it your business to eliminate boredom from your school—make 100 percent engagement the goal. Poll students as to which of their teachers and classes are engaging and which are boring and why. Investigate and take action.
- Talk with 2–4 students each day for at least one-half hour about their learning. If you feel you can't spare that time to engage with kids, you may need to rethink your priorities.
- Work with both students and teachers to implement the new "kids teaching themselves with guidance" model. Eliminate lectures and busywork from your school. Ask teachers who use active learning to share their practices with their colleagues.
- Promote technology use and move toward one-to-one computing.
- Orient your school toward the future. Offer classes in programming, robotics, long-distance collaboration, and cutting-edge science.
- Keep the computer lab open late and on weekends, especially in areas with limited technology access.
- Introduce computerized exercise games that kids really enjoy, such as Dance Dance Revolution, into your physical education classes.
- Have students share your school's most effective practices and results with the world via YouTube.
Image Source: Flickr user Taras Kalapun.
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