I needed to write a post yesterday morning. I had on my desk a few ideas from articles I had cut out of newspapers, suggestions that friends and family had sent to me, and some older posts that I had revised and updated (I began writing twice-weekly posts for this blog in 2009).
Before I decided which of these items I would publish, I checked my website to see how many views I had overnight, what comments had come in and whether they needed responses from me, and, of course, dumping the spam that had collected overnight. I also checked to see who had clicked onto the site for that is a way I find out who is reading posts and a chance for me to pick up different ideas. And that is how I found today’s post.
One reader had downloaded my monthly cartoon feature on technology for kids and adults to her website and also gave me a link to a video called “This Will Revolutionize Education.” Done by Derek Muller,* that title caught my eye. I watched it. And I was pleased by Muller’s accuracy, brevity, and elan in taking apart that common phrase used time and again by wannabe school reformers eager to put the next new device, teaching method, or curriculum into classrooms. Yet in a few years, those eager reformers’ plans have led to no “revolution” in teachers’ classrooms. More often than not, the innovation has disappeared and is mercifully forgotten.
As a historian of school reform, I have written more than I want to remember about those rose-colored, feverish innovations that appear time and again promising to transform teaching practices. That fads occur and recur in schools is certainly obvious to informed observers of U.S. schools. Historian Diane Ravitch wrote about faddishness in American schools two decades ago.
This video is seven minutes long and it vividly captures the hollowness of previous boosters’ claims that a particular innovation “Will Revolutionize Education.” But far more important the video zeroes in on the centrality of the teacher to student learning beyond conveying information which new technologies are superb in doing.
At a time when blended learning, flipped classrooms, student use of computer devices, and “disruptive” innovations are reported in media about U.S. schools, what Derek Muller presents is worth seeing.
So here’s the YouTube video: “This Will Revolutionize Education:”
*For more on Derek Muller, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Muller#:~:text=Derek%20Alexander%20Muller%20(born%209,Saves%20the%20World%20since%202017