We attended Back-To-School Night at my oldest daughter’s high school last night. She is in the pre – IB program so all her classes are basically advanced placement type classes. It was interesting to say the least in light of the recent spate of posts in the edblogosphere about the turtle-pace of change in how school is done. We spent 10 minutes in each of her teachers’ classes to hear about what they would be doing and their expectations.
Out of 6 classrooms 4 had whiteboards (non-digital) but 2 classrooms, including the room where Formal Geometry is taught, had blackboards and they all had 20 year old overhead projectors. The geometry teacher lamented that she is almost out of the colored chalk she bought, and she is hoping she can get whiteboards installed “…maybe this year!” because the chalk is cracking the skin on her hands and markers have more vibrant colors. So here is a high school math teacher in 2006 excited about POSSIBLY getting a whiteboard installed in her room so she can use markers! To her that is a technological advance. The biology teacher did have a 19 inch TV hooked up to his new desktop computer so he can show Powerpoint presentations and video from his computer which he proudly demonstrated for us. (This demonstrates the fallout of Nevada always being 49th or 50th in per pupil funding in the country).
Ian Jukes tells about his father returning to his high school for his 50th reunion and finding it hadn’t changed – he even found a desk with his initials carved in it – he would have been at home here.
This school is very diverse which we really appreciate, but it also concerns me. Our daughter has wireless access with a laptop at home and parents that have a fair amount of tech savvy. But many of the students have zero access. The one theme that ran through the night was that the school invested in new desktop computers and PDAs so that teachers can keep their “Edline” accounts updated so parents have access to how their child is doing – which is great for us. But what about the students that have parents that have no tech savvy, no tech access? Many of these parents have no significant school experience so that even if they did have access to this constantly updated information about their child’s progress, they don’t have the parenting skills, general knowledge or resources to use the information to really help their kids.
The teachers were not seemingly concerned about the lack of access to technology (or the lack of knowledge about educational technology) and they feel they have a great program – and my sense was that all the teachers we met seemed very competent overall. But I couldn’t help but feel that this lack of knowledge of educational technology and the implications of that are like someone who has cancer, but doesn’t have symptoms yet.