Friday, November 14, 2014

"No Child Left Untableted" - Response

My article was The New York Times piece “No Child Left Untableted” by Carlo Rotella. The piece was first published on September 12, 2013 as one of Rotella’s many works. His articles have appeared in 16 major publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe and has also written four books, one dealing with education. He graduated from Wesleyan University then received his Ph. D from Yale. Rotella is currently the director of the American Studies Program and the Lowell Humanities Series at Boston College. He focuses most of his work on American and urban literature and culture. Most of Rotella’s work seems to focus on urban environments or education which presents a unique and important social view on the topic of tablet based classrooms.

The article is centered on a 1:1 technology program in Guilford County in North Carolina sponsored by the Department of Education and run by Amplify. The idea is that having tablets in the class room for students and staff will allow more personalization for individuals’ curriculum and modernize learning. The ideal class room envisioned by this program would allow the teacher to gather data on every student, allowing them to know if they need more help in an area or if they are ready to move ahead and to alter course work on the fly to support an individual’s learning. Teachers would also have monitoring tools for the class room to make sure students stay on task. The big concern in all of this is that students will become more entrenched in their devices then they already are and will not develop important face to face social and speaking skills. It is described as “the crisis in the ability to talk” and is already showing up in high schools where conversational skills are declining. Some people view these programs as attempting to use a magic (technological) bullet to raise the US’s competitiveness in education. The problem outlined at the end is that the US education system is very messy and a toxic political climate encourages contempt towards teachers. Without an environment promoting teachers we are not getting the best and this is hurting US schools. Even officials at Amplify admit (begrudgingly) that without good teachers, technology will not be enough.

There was a quote from the vice president of Amplify, “Think of school as a not very good game. You pretty much know at the beginning which kids are going to come out on top at the end.” As I was reading, this quote sort of stuck out at me and I was considering if these tablet based programs could actually help with that. It certainly gives more freedom and access to resources for students that need it but at the same time it facilitates that separation more. The article outlines this case where after a quiz the students are broken up based on their results were those that needed more work on the topic could get immediate feedback and help from an instructor, which is great for helping students that need it, but anyone who did well already could more on or do more advance work. I see it as students that get behind will have to take more time on things and anyone already ahead can just get further and further out ahead, perpetuating their lead. I think this could help everyone overall but it still does not fix the inequality.

Carlo Rotella, "No child left untableted," New York Times (12 September 2013)

Carlo Rotella. (2014, May 5). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

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