Biting the Educational Hand that Feeds You


#edtech #edchat #mlearning

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Travis Allen, the University Junior who has started his own non-profit to bring about the change that he wants to see in education. The company he started is called iSchool and the premise for what he wants is more mobile learning.

The talk that Travis gave us (about 50 people , a mixture of education and business leaders) was pretty much the same as his YouTube video. I really did enjoy what Travis had to say with one exception.

Any good story-teller knows that you need to start by explaining a problem, so at  the beginning of his talk Travis mentions how bad he feels the U.S. education system is and how unjustly treated he has been as a "digital native." He even goes as far as to list his complaints. I guess he does this for effect, and so that he can continue his story-telling by building up to a climax where he introduces how he and his followers are going to single-handedly change education, the very system that he called the "Titanic."

The exception I take is this; if he got such a horrible education, how does he explain himself. By this I mean, how is it that he is standing before us as a 20-something, successful business owner, and university junior? How did this happen in this horrible country with it's horrible educational system? His very existence speaks to the success of the U.S. educational system. Although it is true that we make horrible test-takers, as all the nay-sayers like to quote; "The U.S. placed 28th out of 30 industrialized nations in math, blah, blah, blah..." What we do make are amazing students who go on to do amazing things. Things that would never be allowed in other so-called better scoring countries.

I agree that there are problems and that we are losing jobs to other countries at an incredible rate. But there are some things that are not broken, let's not just make better test takers, let's make better people. People that go on to do amazing things in the greatest country in the world. While it is true that many of these other industrialized countries kick our butts in standardized tests -- we kick their butts in innovation. The majority of great ideas still come from this educationally-broken system of the good ol' US of A.

So my advice to you Travis is to change  your tune... a bit. Rather than saying what a horrible education you got, you should maybe sing the praises of the education that made you what you are today and then introduce what we can to do to make it even better. We are not the Titanic. For crying out loud, we just put a rover the size of Mini-Cooper on Mars using a frickin' "sky-crane!"

Frickin' sky-crane, Travis! Did you see the animation of this? Where the crud did they get that idea from?

What other country has done something like that?

So change your tune, because your present song might get you some sound-bytes and some followers. But if you want to really make the change that you desire, you need to build some bridges with us educators and not burn them.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

P.S. What this...