Category Archives: skills

Change the Curriculum?

This week it was time for Sushmeet and me to debate! We spent almost two weeks preparing for the debate, but lots of our classmates wrote diverse arguments for both sides with perspectives that surpassed my limited lens and subjectivity. So, lets get started!

Debate 3: Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology (e.g., cursive writing, multiplication tables, spelling).

Pre-debate I felt that many of these skills will be replaced by technology in classrooms. To me, it makes sense that our language code develops as time progresses. As words and phrases are added to our dictionaries, the code increases to reflect cultural changes and spread of language codes. Sometimes it seems as if language is regressing back into visual images like emoticons, gifs, and memes. This translates into many areas of the curriculum like multiplication facts (calculators), spelling (spell check), cursive writing (fonts), and even graphing (exporting to charts, graphs, and tables). Now let’s get into support for both sides.

Agree

  • If we want a more equitable educational program we must reimagine our education system to make space for social justice practices, by removing unnecessary skills for today’s society there is more room for higher level thinking, 21st century skills,

the whole education process can be reformed and restructured, including the main drivers and principles for reinventing schools in the global knowledge economy, models for designing smart learning environments at the institutional level, a new pedagogy and related curriculums for the 21st century, the transition to digital and situated learning resources, open educational resources and MOOCs, new approaches to cognition and neuroscience as well as the disruption of education sectors” (p. v, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

  • More personalized programming through implementation of technology.

Future education will fully consider the personality and development of each student. With the effective and wise use of AI technology we can surpass the personalized and small-scale education of the agricultural society, we can surpass the non-personalized and large-scale education of the industrialized society, and we can then establish a personalized but large-scaled educational system (p., v Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

  • Faster formative feedback to guide the learner and more time for teachers to give learners quality feedback from higher-level thinking tasks.

Knowledge and skills delivery will be dramatically supplemented by artificial intelligence while other aspects of educating and cultivating become more and more important. New technology will save teachers’ time and help them care more for the students’ soul, spirit, and happiness since there would be time for them to have further communication with students, to inspire students for more motivation and interest to do more creative and innovative learning. Future education will enter the era of co-working between teachers and artificial intelligence. (p. vi, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

Now I have to say that I agree with most of what we argued, but I do believe that some of these basic skills are foundational to higher level, complex problem-solving.

Disagree

  • Spelling affects marketing and quality of work. Without it we lose our language code.

That advice reflected a societal approbation of the ability to spell—which at the time could be defined as the capacity to write words that conform to the orthography of a given language—that had been pervasive since at least the 16th century and grew in importance with the rise of the printing press and printed books” (Spelling, (2021), Pan, S.C., Rickard, T.C. & Bjork, R.A.)

  • Cursive writing is linked to motor skills, memory, comprehension, and other improved brain functions.

“there’s plenty of evidence of cognitive and academic benefits. Brain scans reveal neural circuitry lighting up when young children first print letters and then read them. The same effect is not apparent when the letters are typed or traced” (Cursive Writing: Berger, T. (2017, March 10))

  • Students cannot complete higher-level problem solving in mathematics without basic skills.

“students do not know their fractions, cannot do long division or basic subtraction and borrowing operations. The bottom line: “Students don’t have the skills at hand to engage in problem-solving and higher-level math.” (Mental Math and Computation Skills: Bennett, P. (2021, June 6))

I agree that some of these skills are valuable, but also that technology has an increasing role in our daily skills. Overall, technology isn’t quite ready to overthrow these skills.

Debate 4:  Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice

Whew, we had two heated debate topics this week! Let’s get into the team’s arguments.

Agree

  • Teachers shouldn’t be neutral about social justice issues and we have a responsibility to use our privilege to speak up against discrimination.

for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted” (Angela Watson’s Truth For Teachers: Some Things a Teacher Shouldn’t be Neutral About (September 1, 2019))

  • Social media can increase student voice can make a difference in communities. Our classrooms can be sites of activism.

What I learned from this assessment is that young people are ready, willing, and able to engage in difficult conversations. They are interested in fighting for their lives, our lives, and their nation. They are leaders—even the quiet ones.

There is power in student voice, and it isn’t a voice any teacher can give. We don’t give voices. We make space for them in our curricula and classrooms, or we don’t” (Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice: Lorena Germán (2020))

Disagree

  • There are more effective ways that students can engage in social justice.

“Without offline action, gestures like using a hashtag or posting a black square come across as performative, opportunistic, and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism.”” (Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag)

  • If teachers engage in social activism, there is a possibility of professional repercussions and possibility of influencing students beliefs and opinions.

“They want to preserve their objectivity in front of their students. They don’t want to hurt their relationships with parents, students, or colleagues who might have different beliefs than they do. They worry about professional repercussions, especially when posting from an account that they use for work-related reasons” (Teachers, Politics, and Social Media: A Volatile Mix)

Overall, I believe teachers should be able to engage if they choose to. There are some who wish to engage in social justice, and some who do not. For me, I will choose to use my privilege to be an ally. If there were to be repercussions I am privileged to be able to either use a lawyer to speak more, or find other employment in time. This isn’t a choice everyone has, so they should also have a choice in engaging in social justice.

If you made it this far, great job!

Happy Teaching,

Leah