Education Facing Overwhelming Challenge
|FTLComm - Tisdale - March
We, who recognise that something very important has happened, have to guard against sounding like fanatical alarmists, but because of our awareness, we have a duty to tell you about this major change in the way things are going to have to be done.
Mario deSantis has been, in a series of articles in Ensign telling about System Dynamics and that is because he has realised that the current educational process is unlikely to produce the desired results.
|Educators have left the public on their own to develop the skills to understand the media of television||Television is hardly what it was when we first got our first set in the fall of 1958 and we watched a lot of snow until broadcast expansion covered the part of the province we lived in. Now we see people using cable, direct television and video tape in ways no one would have predicted forty-one years ago. Though television affects the way we receive and interpret information and make major decisions in our lives our school system has struggled to provide course material and some of the prerequisites necessary to handle the passing, perhaps past, television age. I am profoundly concerned that computer technology will receive similar treatment. Educators have left the public on their own to develop the skills to understand the media of television to the detriment of society as we see the consumer nature of us all and have to wonder where this influence came from.|
|we wait for someone to tell us what we should be doing||The first computers appeared in Saskatchewan classrooms in the fall of 1978, now over twenty years have passed and we can still see this remarkable tool hardly being adapted for either education or education adapting to handle it and all that it can provide. The conservatism in Education is understandable but it is also its worse and most severe limitation. We Canadians in general and Saskatchewan residents in particular are determined to let others make the discoveries and work on innovation while we wait for someone to tell us what we should be doing. Our Saskatchewan geography and ethno-cultural make up is unique and requires home grown innovation . Research must be done to make the needs of our society come to life and be efficiently available to the learners of this province.|
|(the library) was the most important part of a school's means of providing for a child's learning environment||Here is the present dilemma, the vast resources of the Internet and the World Wide Web in particular have rapidly become the first source of information and people are coming to rely upon what they find for themselves on this monstrosity. Homes are quickly going online just as business has for some years and though school's recognise this pattern they are unable to bring this area to focus. Some ten years ago the realisation that the resource room (the library) was the most important part of a school's means of providing for a child's learning environment. Curriculum planners had long before that begun the shift away from textbooks and resourced based learning was established as the means of fostering the education process. The odd thing was that the budgets for textbooks which were now no longer the main thrust of programming continued to be used to buy textbooks that quadrupled in value. This meant that money that should have been pouring into the school's libraries was being wasted on a few textbooks and no budget was been set aside for teacher librarians to service the centre of the school's resources. Instead technicians were hired at close to minimum wage and expected to fill this instructional role.|
|whole instructional process has become a "make do" affair||Teachers themselves were not prepared for the shift in instruction and struggled with the open nature of modern curriculum while at the same time cutbacks reduced the amount of time available for the teacher to do the course development that had shifted from textbooks and the Department of Education Curriculum to the classroom teacher. It should be obvious that this whole process has imploded. Without the tools and time to do the task and the teacher librarian to provide support the whole instructional process has become a "make do" affair.|
|no one was leading the instructional process||With the arrival of modern computers, school boards realised that it was being expected by parents that these things were becoming a part of the real world and needed to be a part of the school world. But suspicious that teachers would just play on these new toys the boards specified that they be used by students. The consequences of course was that no one was leading the instructional process and the majority of teachers with no inclination toward this new technology ignored it completely. At the top of this page is a sign that if you click on it will tell you about Winona Minnesota and how education is done there. That community is about the same size as Tisdale has a similar tax base and yet look at the way it has reorganised the instructional process to accommodate new technology.|
|computer use (must) be a prerequisite of being a teacher||If you are going to have computers in a society, the very first people who should have them both on their desk at work and in their study at home are the teachers. Just as learning to read is a prerequisite for a high school student so should computer use be a prerequisite of being a teacher. Then to make this process effective students need computers on their desk at school and in their study centre at home, with out the hardware the process can not proceed.|
|No one is given a shovel and told to go and build a superhighway||The next and most important element is that teachers, since they have to develop the teaching materials and resources need the time and support to do the task and that means a well stocked and staffed library. The centre of the school's research and educational resources is the library, architects know this and design the new schools in this manner but we have to allocate the resources to that centre if we want it to do the job. No one is given a shovel and told to go and build a superhighway and no student should be given a pencil and told to get his or her grade twelve.|