If you can, take the time to read this when you have 20 minutes. Not that it’ll take that long, but this is one of those articles that’s worth reading two or three times to really process it.
When I think about the “ethics and responsibilities of the 21st century classroom,” I think not only about our ethical responsibilities toward students but about our ethical responsibilities toward teachers. I am very concerned that the drop-out rate of K-12 teachers is even higher than the drop-out rate of K-12 students in the U.S. and in many other countries around the world. As I’ve gone around the U.S. and abroad talking with teachers, I’ve seen over and over how beleaguered they are: by (a) too many rules, (b) too many constantly-changing systems and theories, by (c) too many “learning objectives,” by (d) too much pressure to deliver “content,” by (e) too many expectations about high test scores (on standardized tests that often do not measure real learning and content), by (f) ever-escalating and rigid standards of “accountability,” and, added to all of this, by (g) too much faddish, expensive new technology dumped not only on kids but on teachers as if the technology itself magically will take care of a, b, c, d, e, and f.
That won’t happen. Technology requires serious, thoughtful reflection about how it can promote real learning. And that, to me, is the first ethical responsibility we need to address: Rarely are teachers given the time, the training, the support, or even the opportunity for peer-support and peer-collaborations that allow them to conceive of the best way to use those shiny new iPads or the latest software that promises “results.”