[Ed. note: One of my followers is a high school teacher. He uses his blog to give students their assignments. I subscribe to his blog. Today’s assignment is the title of my blog. I have been charged to write a 300 word argumentative essay. The blog below is 453 words.]
The year tablets were first introduced to high school students in my town, every ninth grader was given an iPad for use for the entire year.
People debated the merits of the program that year. Some liked the idea, others did not. Something odd happens in a community debate, where information flows in chaotic ways, from government officials, through editorials and over backyard fences. Eventually, out of all the pros and cons mentioned during the debate, an essential argument wins the day. In this case, it was agreed that competition is high among students who want to go to college. Since other schools were almost certain to migrate to tablet use, our students would be at a disadvantageous if they did not have access to computer tablets. So this was the essential argument that won the day: “If we don’t use tablets in teaching, our students may not be able to compete against better prepared students.”
“Better prepared” is an assumption. No one knew then, and no one really knows now, if students that use tablets in high school are better off than students that do not. But when school leaders reduced all the arguments given, they bought every 9th grade student a tablet. The following year, they provided every high school student an iPad. Every single student!
This method of education administration is called Crowd Following. At least, that is what I am calling it. The idea is to find out which way the crowd is going, and then make sure you are going that way too. So for the crowd of students that were assumed to be more competitive than our students, the School Trustees rushed blindly to make sure they joined that crowd, rather than fall behind.
Should tablets become the primary way students learn in class? It depends on which way the crowd is going. Everyone follows the crowd. Scientists develop new ideas based on old ones. Educators embrace new teaching methods and discard the old ones. School Administrators are pressed to improve the performance of the students and the schools. Everyone follows a crowd. No one wants to be left behind.
So it doesn’t matter if tablets should or should not be the primary way students learn in class. That is what educators are doing today because that is what they think everyone else is doing. If I am wrong, then there are no predictable patterns to human behavior, no record of Crowd Following in the annals of history and parents make decisions for reasons other than conformity.
All of this reminds me of a song title my father told me about. “Don’t Run Through the Cornfield Grandma, Because You are Going Against the Grain.”
No parent wants their children running against the grain.