EdHist Roundup

EdHist Round-up #1

Bringing you the best and worst on the history and future of education from the interwebs, presented without comment but with judgement. Please send in your suggestions.

we cringe …

quotation marksEducation today provides excellent preparation for a job – in the 19th-century. This is not terribly surprising, as both our curriculum and our modes of delivery were developed in the 19th-century. There’s only one problem: We live in the 21st-century. It takes 5 milliseconds to communicate with someone in Europe, not 5 weeks. It takes half a dozen robots to assemble an automobile, not 100 factory workers. Everything has changed – except education.

David Helfand, President and Vice-chancellor of Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia in the Globe & Mail, 5 Feb 2014


quotation marksEven before the online revolution, full-time professor jobs were already on the decline as colleges and universities came to rely on an army of inexpensive adjunct instructors. […] But large-scale online education initiatives may do even more harm to the profession of full-time college teaching.

David R. Wheeler on the CNN Opinion site, 3 Feb 2014.


quotation marksChildren in nurseries will soon be learning through Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses) as the internet revolution changes the face of learning, according to the man who first pioneered their use in higher education. Today’s two- and three-year-olds have been born with keyboards “pinned to their fingers” …

Transportation has changed completely from the 1600s – from ox carts and carriages to rocket ships… [but] education has not changed really since the introduction of the text book. Even that – and the introduction of the blackboard in 1862 – had been controversial, as folk worried about the monks being put out of business…. The blackboard was criticised because it meant teachers had to turn their back on a class, thus threatening classroom discipline.

Dr Anant Agarwal, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, quoted in Richard Garner, ‘Online learning is ‘the blackboard of the future’, The Independent, 18 Feb 2014

we cheer!

quotation marks

A couple of months ago, my brother Fred and I went back to the house we grew up in … my brother’s room too has become a shrine to the Fred that was — it’s almost untouched since he moved out to attend the Air Force Academy. But it’s pretty weird to visit the room now. Fred didn’t stay in the Air Force Academy. He dropped out after his sophomore year, became an environmental activist, then an emergency room nurse, and he’s now a nurse practitioner in Maine.

Visiting his old bedroom was like stepping into the past that felt disconnected from the present. But not totally disconnected. You could find glimpses there of the kid he was, of the person he was supposed to become — of my parents and grandparents’ vision of his future. A future predicted in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s worth asking, I think, whether this is the future that came to be.

The room was the history of that future …

I want to talk about the history of the future of ed-tech this morning. The future that wasn’t. The future that isn’t quite. The future that isn’t quite yet. The history of all of this …

[…read the rest, it’s great!]

Audrey Waters, ‘The History of Future Ed-Tech’ 4 Feb 2014 on Hack Education, transcript of her keynote at the EdTech Teacher iPad Summit


quotation marksAnybody who pays attention to the vast literature on educational technology should be familiar with the term unbundling. Educational reformers use it to connote the kind of division of labor and specialization that Frederick Taylor adored. Why should anybody provide content for their classrooms, they ask rhetorically, when the best professors in the world can be piped in via the     Internet? This practice, the argument goes, will allow professors in less prestigious colleges to concentrate on giving students the individual attention they deserve.

Jonathan Rees in the AHA’s Perspectives on History, Feb 2014


quotation marksAnd then suddenly there he is, on screen for less than a minute: an Aboriginal man in worn military uniform, a barefoot woman wrapped in a blanket sitting on rocks behind him, and grog bottles in a basket at his feet. The video is talking about “these ancient Aboriginal tribes in Australia”, to demonstrate something about oral cultures and their capacity to remember complex stories of kinship, which will later reattach to a thought about basketball fans and their ability to remember stats. I feel a kind of panic: wait, did we just go there? And sure enough, we’re right at the heart of the terrible history of empires built for trade behind a facade of civilising pedagogy, only now “we” seem to be re-enacting exactly the encounter that I’m looking at on my laptop screen…

[read on, at the link below; an excellent post.]

Kate Bowles, ‘History’s gifts’ 15 Feb 2015, Music for Deckchairs