Two Cheers for PBS’s TED Education Talk
Two cheers for the Public Broadcast System’s TED Talks: The Education Revolution. The special report featured Nadia Lopez, the New York City principal who has recently authored The Bridge to Brilliance. Even better, several TED speakers proclaimed teaching as an act of love. We’ve endured twenty years of soul-killing corporate school reform and PBS, once again, contributes to the multi-media call for 21st century schools worthy of an American democracy. But, for some reason, it ignored the way that test-driven, competition-driven reform took all of the problems documented in the presentations and made them much worse.
Sal Kahn, a former hedge fund entrepreneur, kicked off the talks by explaining how technology could launch a future of joyful learning. In a rational era of school improvement, digital tools would promote learning for mastery and a growth mindset. Before No Child Left Untested, and before the Billionaires Boys Club’s public relations spin corrupted the language of education, adaptive technologies held great promise for nurturing real personalized learning. In an age of accountability-driven reform, however, those digital miracles degenerated into “credit recovery,” or the mindless charade of “passing kids on,” which my inner city students derided as “exercising the right click finger.”
Filmmaker Greg Whiteley then summarized the hundred-year history of schools performing as “factories of learning.” The next presentation could have tackled the question why Silicon Valley, paradoxically, has funded the data-driven reformers’ effort to turn schools back into a sped-up Model T assembly line. Ironically, it often was entrepreneurs and geeks like Bill Gates who drove creativity and individuality out of classrooms, replacing them with hi-tech versions of worksheet-driven, rote instruction. Inexplicably, PBS didn’t address the resulting dictates for nonstop remediation that drove holistic instruction out of so many schools.
The TED presenters also could have addressed the irony of billionaires, who made their money from innovation, but who drove the retrograde test-driven, competition-driven school reform movement. Top-down reformers essentially sought to impose the same accelerated educational conveyor belt on diverse classrooms across the nation - while calling it “personalized learning” for “rigor.” They often mandated educational monocultures where educators were required to be “all on the same page” in rushing skin-deep through a scripted curriculum designed to jack up primitive bubble-in tests scores.
The next presenters may have been very different than what I hoped for but they were excellent. Arizbeth, a 20-year-old undocumented immigrant expressed the Two Cheers for PBS's TED Education Talks | Huffington Post - Linkis.com: