Friday, April 26, 2013

School's Out!

No, it’s not summer vacation yet, though both teachers and students are starting to count the calendar days. There’s still weekly staff meetings and according to my teacher friends, a lot of them these days have to do with technology— the electronic, screened kind, that is. No question about it—the machines are taking over, much to everyone’s delight.

And why not? As teachers, there’s really nothing more to teach. Basic math skills? Why bother? Calculators have been around a long time, honey. Penmanship? Ha ha! Have you heard of the keyboard? Foreign language? You gotta be kidding. First off, everyone’s speaking English and when they don’t, I got the Google translator ap. Piano lessons? Dial up Youtube. But why bother with that old tired instrument— just splash some sounds together on GarageBand and goodbye pesky music teachers. Research skills? I got Wikapediea and I know how to use it, even if I have trouble spelling it. And speaking of which, Spell Check makes that quaint skill obsolete. Jazz history? My Facebook friends reminded me that it is Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday. Field trip to a museum? Why bother? Click of a button and all of Picasso is mine.

And as anyone knows, it’s a bit of a joke to train the teachers to learn and re-learn the latest and greatest when the kids are ten steps ahead of them. So the new role of teachers is simply to minimize the number of Justin Beiber hits in any i-Padded classroom and still bring home the same salary. Pretty good deal!!

But somebody’s gonna get wise and realize that schools have been rendered to the dinosaur burying grounds and there goes the profession of teaching. We better start scrambling to justify the real estate, salaries and health benefits. We need a new mission statement for education. Here’s some options.

• To teach all the things that can’t be found on a screen. (Homework: Make a list of them. If you can’t think of any, turn in your teacher certification now.)

• To provide a meaning and a context for all the marvelous things which can be stored and transmitted on our devices. Help kids know what to look for and why and figure out the next question that keeps them searching.

• To be a holding ground for the pre-screen knowledge and ways of knowing when the electricity goes out.

I had a few more, but I know that you’re scrolling past this Blog to check out the latest Justin Beiber, so why bother?

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