The Sky is Falling … AGAIN

Education is a place where we regularly hear fears about things impinging on our schools. This is particularly true when we talk about technology. Whenever a new technology approaches we sometimes hear negative reactions from the community. Technology is great until someone says it isn’t.

“The sky is falling. Save yourself!”

Let’s review some of the historical examples of technology fear:

This Trendsetter from the 70s Changed Math Classrooms Forever
  • Calculators – when these new electronic devices became widely available and affordable in the mid 70s the fear was that they would make students illiterate in math.
  • Internet – this innovation provided more immediate access to information as compared to the antiquated Dewey Decimal System card catalogue in the library. It was going to create chaos in our classrooms with rampant plagiarism.
  • Online Learning – this new type of virtual instruction was going to completely negate classroom teachers and change education into simple, rote memorization.
  • Wolfram Alpha – Introduced in 2009, this new website allowed users to generate answers to mathematic problems by using the site’s formulas. It would make learning math irrelevant and allow for rampant cheating.

None of those catastrophes happened — more on this in a bit.

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The COVID Learning Loss and Catching Up

“COVID Learning Loss”

“Pandemic Delay”

“Student Learning Gaps”

I see and hear these catch phrases all the time. Just Google ‘COVID Learning Loss’ and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s a sampling of some articles that point out how learning has been affected during the pandemic:

Pandemic learning loss is real and kids need help to catch up, education experts say

Learning loss due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic has had devastating impacts on learning. What will it take to help students catch up?

As Superintendent, I hear about the COVID effects:

“How are you going to have students catch-up?

Many students are further behind now than they would have been if the pandemic never happened.

“What will you prioritize to make up the difference?”

“How will you accelerate learning so that they are up-to-date?”

I understand the concern being expressed. I do.

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Gender Differences in Learning

I remember my post from a couple of years ago where I placed a disclaimer at the beginning asking for people to NOT email me with ‘the exception that disproves the rule’. The post was published in Dec 2019 (Teenager Emotions – Some Intriguing Research) and talked about how teenagers processed their emotions differently than younger children and most adults. Yes, we could always find an exception to the general findings — people are complex like that — but, that does not mean that a general relationship or trend isn’t evident.

I feel like I should probably start out this blog post with the same request.

I’m going to be talking about some research suggesting there are differences between how boys and girls learn. So, to qualify things before I receive comments or concerns, I am not saying that EVERY child will fall into this binary description. Children are diverse like the rest of our population and do not automatically fit into stereotyped boxes of ‘boys’ or ‘girls’. Even suggesting that there is this binary world of only two genders does not fully acknowledge the spectrum of gender identity in our world.

The messages I want to share with you today are meant to provoke thought about how CHILDREN learn differently. Feel free to even take the terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ away and think about them as ‘differences amongst children’.

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