Computers win ... and students lose - Coeur d'Alene Press: My Turn

Computers win ... and students lose

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 12:00 am

I have spent 16 years teaching in the Coeur d'Alene School District and over 20 working with kids. Three years ago I could not have imagined writing this letter. I am aware of the animosity toward teachers by some community members. It is not my intent to make a political statement, though I see much of this animosity taking a political tone. I write this because most of the negative comments I hear originate from people with no classroom affiliation, and because I see and experience the tragic effects of decisions made by those who have little or no teaching experience.

I observe profit being valued more than wisdom. Our school programs, once built on a solid foundation, are now in jeopardy. Since the introduction of the Luna policies, teachers have become less important than computers. There has never been a strong definition of how computers would be utilized; in our department world history will become a "blended" course, half teacher and half computer.

My immediate concern is the impact this decision will have on student learning and student character when the computer supplants the teacher. Forty-nine percent of instruction for world history will be computer driven. In sound pedagogical practice the computer can be a valuable resource, but it is the teacher who determines their best use so that student learning can be complete.

Successful students must learn certain values such as patience, hard work, self-discipline, honesty, respect for others, etc. Teachers instill those values, not computers. Teachers serve as positive role models and successful learning requires positive human interaction. In training we were informed by a district official that "with the incorporation of this program you will not even have to interact with your students." For those who do not understand how such an approach to teaching can damage a student's education, there is no reason to explain further. You will never understand.

Damaging, too, is the inevitable rationalization that a teacher who instructs only 51 percent of the time is merely a part-time teacher. Eventually administrators will recognize those teachers as only part-time instructors, pay them part-time wages, and eliminate their benefit packages. No respectable teacher will accept those positions because we, too, have to feed our families. Your children will be supervised by persons willing to work for part-time wages. World history was chosen because it is not required by the state for graduation; neither is geography. The veterans I have known, from World War II especially, will be appalled when they discover our omissions.

I don't understand those criticizing teachers and our system of education saying we need to return to "good ole ways" and "traditional values." I was born and raised in this community with these values. Aside from my family, the most influential and positive adults in my life were teachers. My family and teachers are the very reason I became a history teacher.

Regardless, the point is that I teach the values that were taught to me, including respect for others, hard work, honesty, self-discipline, patience, integrity, kindness, etc. Teaching has been a blessing, and not because of summer vacation. During the summer I am a student who attends classes and continues to work with kids as a baseball coach. If you prefer, I have no problem with year-round school. I work evenings and weekends grading papers and creating lessons. My colleagues work just as much. I am not touting my performance; it is just that the community needs to get over this lazy teacher perception.

When people see unruly kids in the community, schools tend to be blamed. Understand, as teachers we are deeply concerned about such behaviors, as well, and most are a result of forces outside our schools. They are not a product of our educational system.

I now see individuals taking over decision-making positions in education who have no classroom experience, implementing programs that have made the classroom critically vulnerable to their destructive impact and counterintuitive to education. There is too much noise regarding the state of education that is distracting and destroying the true nature of education, which should center on the student. Students learn best when they have caring and reputable teachers. And we have them in the Coeur d'Alene School District. However, this is changing and if left unopposed will destroy our quality of education leaving our students, our community and our state to pay for these mistakes.

Few of us are willing to step forward to protect our valuable education system. By writing this letter I put my own job in peril. We have been told not to rock the boat. But I believe this is exactly what the forces who are dismantling our schools are hoping for. Being a teacher today is to live in fear - so we close ourselves in our classrooms and try to find ways to widen our moats and protect our jobs. Others embrace this invasion, perhaps not realizing their jobs may be lost to it.

The conditions in our history department will inevitably spread to the other departments. As for administrators who think they are safe, eventually teacher numbers will dwindle and there will be little justification for keeping more than two administrators per building to preside over part-time teachers and students who lack the skills necessary for success. The spirit of this movement does not have our children's best interests at heart. The motive is profit at their expense.

Tracy Turrell is a teacher at Lake City High School.

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9 comments:

  • Milkyway posted at 11:32 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Milkyway Posts: 38

    I believe that computers can only bring benefits for students. There are millions of information sources on the internet which are very useful for students. They can even use the new cloud technology, all they need is a Cheap Cloud Server.

     
  • Milkyway posted at 11:53 pm on Thu, Aug 9, 2012.

    Milkyway Posts: 38

    Computers can only be beneficial for students if they are used in the right way. Using computers they can find many useful information from the internet. Many students even began using the the new cloud technology that is why being a private cloud provider is very profitable these days.

     
  • Milkyway posted at 7:44 am on Thu, Aug 9, 2012.

    Milkyway Posts: 38

    great article

     
  • Milkyway posted at 7:42 am on Thu, Aug 9, 2012.

    Milkyway Posts: 38

    Using computers, students can only win because they have a lots of benefits. Using the internet they can find in a few seconds any info they need and can access many educational programs. Many students are using even the new clod technology, all they need for that is a Cheap Cloud Server Hosting.

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:53 pm on Mon, Jun 4, 2012.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    apathoid- What in the above is "misinformation"?

     
  • hayden_guy posted at 8:32 pm on Mon, Jun 4, 2012.

    hayden_guy Posts: 399

    Psst, the author is a guy.
    Best not to assume Jeffrey and apathoid.

     
  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 3:45 pm on Fri, Jun 1, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    WOW, what a crock of fear mongering rhetoric. I hope this Teacher doesn't actually believe what she wrote, it would be sad to know there are teacher so blind to reality.

    "Successful students must learn certain values such as patience, hard work, self-discipline, honesty, respect for others, etc. Teachers instill those values, not computers. Teachers serve as positive role models and successful learning requires positive human interaction." No Parents Instill those values, not Teachers. Parents, Neighbors, Family and Friends serve as Role Models, Not Teachers which should restrain themselves from personal relationships with the students they teach and are the judges of their work.

    "Damaging, too, is the inevitable rationalization that a teacher who instructs only 51 percent of the time is merely a part-time teacher. Eventually administrators will recognize those teachers as only part-time instructors, pay them part-time wages, and eliminate their benefit packages. No respectable teacher will accept those positions because we, too, have to feed our families."
    Will Teachers and Administrative jobs be reduced in time? Probably. But not to part time teachers and pay, part time Employees always cost more than full time, because Supervision is needed more and costs more. As a History Teacher you may need to also teach Geography, or the curriculum could be expanded to include more specific Historical studies. Will Teachers and Human interaction ever be eliminated? Never, It is impossible.

    These same level of unreasonable fear have been surrounding Computers since their inception. Pilots Feared they would be out of jobs to Computers. Engineers, Assembly Lines, Doctors and almost every work environment has Feared the Same at some time. Have there been changes? Yes but mainly to safety, production levels, and job descriptions. Overall Employment opportunities have only increased.

    When Calculators were being smuggled into the classrooms, the Education System fought them tooth and nail, Banning them, then forcing the students to "show their work", until finally they had to accept them. Math & Science Teachers were fearful then, that their Jobs would be eliminated. They were wrong then, and this teacher is Wrong now.
    Teachers will never be eliminated, but Computer are in every aspect of our life, and it is barbaric to leave them out of education. Private Schools and Colleges embraced them a decade ago. Every Profession uses computers to some level with Continuing Education Credits for their Licencing. This teacher says in the summers she will be a student, and with little doubt some of those classes will be online courses.

    The Education System will change, some of the system will revert to "the good ol days", but never all. We will never go back to were segregation forces the Federal government to take over the system and standardize it to it's least denominator. I hope soon a teacher will be able to send johnny to the principle everyday until he either fails or decides he wants to learn, and not be allowed to ruin everyone else's chance to learn. An Education System that allows the Taxes of Disabled, advanced or retarded learners to follow them to the specialty Education schools they deserve, instead of lowering the levels for the general education populace.

    As long as these Fear Mongering Unions keep the parents and Teachers at each others throats it will be a battle of will and votes to force the change. I hear Teacher all the time complaining about people hating teachers, personally I have never meet one, but I am often accused of hatred. This Moronic (having a mental age of between eight and twelve years) behavior is the cause of most of the divide. If you are a teacher and think you are hated personal because of it, you need mental help. That is called Paranoid behavior. No one is out to get you, or your job. Grow up.

    Last but not least. As long as teachers segregate based on "no classroom experience" "no classroom affiliation" and so many other elitist divisions, and refuse to acknowledge Parents are Teachers from the first breath of their child to the last, and are only asking for assistance, not a take over, of that Parental Responsibility. Teacher will always feel under appreciated, we Appreciate your help, not your attempt to supersede.

     
  • pginthemiddle posted at 9:14 am on Fri, Jun 1, 2012.

    pginthemiddle Posts: 84

    ...just like it is easy for people such as yourself who have never been in the classroom to blame and incite fear with misinformation about teachers. Tracy is correct in one thing. "For those who do not understand how such an approach to teaching can damage a student's education, there is no reason to explain further. You will never understand."
    It is not that educators are disgusted with the introduction of computers. Probably 90% welcome the addition as another tool to help in educating and to make it more fun. It is the way it is being introduced and how it is being introduced by people who have no experience in the classroom.

     
  • apathoid posted at 8:03 am on Fri, Jun 1, 2012.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    This just makes me sad...all I see here is a teacher stuck in her ways, unwilling to adapt, unwilling to accept change, unwilling to understand that education is changing and the way students learn is changing. I suppose it is easier to blame and incite fear with misinformation than to actually take responsibility for improving in your job.

     
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