The New York Times invited me to debate the following premise:
“School administrators say online courses in K-12 classrooms can give students the skills they’ll need in college and the workplace. Indeed, the presence of online courses in primary and secondary schools is a growing trend across the country.
Critics, however, say the interest in such courses is driven by a desire to spend less on teachers, especially when budget crises are forcing deep cuts in education.
Given that middle school and high school students are easily distracted, can they really learn and benefit from online classes?” (NY Times Online)
So, without knowing who I was debating or their positions, I wrote this response (within their tight word limit). In the grand tradition of TED, 140 Character Conferences and other short-attention-span forums, I get to talk. You get to read, and perhaps leave snarky comments.
It’s too bad. Education is complex and could really benefit from substantive conversation. It would be even better if education issues were discussed in the actual NY Times.
In any event, I’m honored to have been asked and proud of what I wrote.
“I reject the assumption that adolescents are easily distracted. Given the right project, topic and environment, young people have a remarkable capacity for intensity. Inherent in the second question lies a major problem facing education today…” (Gary Stager, from article)
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.