Education Week - May 16, 2018 - 24
READERS REACT on edweek.org
Looks Like in the
In a May 2nd Commentary,
author Mike Schmoker took aim
at education's preoccupation with
innovation at any cost.
Too often, he argues, education
leaders and policymakers ignore the
well-worn wisdom of what actually
works-checking for understanding,
prioritizing literacy and writing,
mapping out coherent curricula-in
favor of the latest fads.
Many readers took to the
comment section to share their own
reservations about the prevailing
trends in education, while a handful
of readers cautioned against
dismissing new innovations out of
To read the full essay and more reader
responses, please visit:
the opportunity to solve real life problems. We as teachers, must take what
works from every so called 'fad' and
add to our arsenal of teaching methods or 'tool box.' "
" 'Disruptive Innovation' is the flavor
of the decade within many parts of our
society, including schools. It is a side effect of our technology obsession and the
Silicon Valley mindset. Human beings,
however, are not software. The mechanisms by which we learn evolved over
millions of years at a time when computers were nonexistent.
You can flood human beings with
information through many technological pathways, but this information will always have to integrate
with our biological, neural pathways
before learning can happen. You can
marinate students in computers and
smartphones and other gadgets, but it
does not change the way their brains
"I began teaching in 1970 and have
witnessed the abandonment of the
traditional teaching model in order to
incorporate the 'whims, fads, opportunism, and ideology,' which have left two-
Find out what you're
24 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 16, 2018 | www.edweek.org/go/commentary
thirds of American students without the
knowledge to be college- or career-ready.
... Many educational theorists have
foisted their untested methodologies
on administrators and teachers eager
for the next trend guaranteed to make
teaching easier while improving students' scores.
Rather than look back for solutions,
they lurch ahead and expect technology will provide the ultimate solution
to what ails our educational outcomes.
One thing our students do not need is
more screen time; they need a knowledgeable, nurturing adult with solid
classroom management skills to teach
them the basics so they can use foundational knowledge to analyze, discern,
think logically, and create. Technology is
an unbelievable tool but only for those
who know something."
"Every human being is capable of
innovation and creativity. There is
nothing wrong with students having
LETTERS to the EDITOR
"In well over six years, my district
has offered no professional development in pedagogy-none. Zero.
Instead, we tinkered around with
Google Classroom for a year learning
valuable skills like how to import clip
art into a Google form. ... If we want
to see real learning gains, require
students to read good material, pose
interesting and relevant questions
about it, and then make [them] write
about it. It's still the most successful
reform of all, and it isn't actually a
reform at all."
"How the heck can we expect our students to succeed in the 2020s if we teach
them with 1960s rose-tinted glasses?
Make way for the new."
"In the spirit of those teachers demanding authentic reform in how education is funding teacher's salaries,
let us extend that spirit to a largerneeded reformation in public education, one that will restore integrity
in the administrative layers, school
boards, teachers' unions, and state
-COMPILED BY MARY HENDRIE
Leverage Students' Gaming Interest
To The Editor:
Mr. Hillman is correct: Students should not be playing
"Fortnite" when they are supposed to be learning in class
("Educators Battling Class Distractions Of 'Fortnite'
Game," May 9, 2018). But we as educators should leverage
student interests so they will deeply engage in their
We must teach youths to thrive in a world where
evolving technology brings changes to every aspect of
society at a lightning pace. Over the past few months, the
Orange County Department of Education and University
of California, Irvine, have collaborated on the Orange
County High School E-sports League which coordinates
online tournament gameplay between teams from rival
high schools. Student players received coaching on
game and life skills from near-peer mentors. Weekend
workshops taught foundational career skills like building
a personal computer and professional communication.
Many students who previously had not been engaged in
their classwork worked hard to meet attendance and GPA
Through this process, we've seen students shift from
a focus on their own individual glory to their team's
best interest. Other students, on their own time, created
team websites, filling pages with expository writing
and promotional media. We've seen students dig into
gameplay data to improve their skills, realizing that
math and comparison metrics are critically useful. And
we've witnessed the slow thaw of students who were
formerly disengaged and failing in basic coursework as
they began to feel seen by their peers. Acknowledging and
connecting to kids' interests isn't pandering to them; it's
demonstrating school's value.
Based on this logic we've developed a curriculum that
will leverage student passion for online gaming with
interest-based learning. Classes will meet high school
graduation requirements in English/language arts while
weaving in principles of STEM, building social-emotional
learning skills, and offering career and technical
education. Our goal is simple: Help students learn well,
learn deeply, and learn skills to build foundational
understanding for the jobs of the future.
Professor of Informatics
University of California, Irvine
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