Boody: As a Former Teacher, I Have Big Questions About Education, Technology & Recent Summit Learning Article. You Should, Too
An article published by The New York Times on April 21 raised concerns about Summit Learning, an online education platform, and the backlash it has faced in various school districts in Kansas. However, there are some important aspects that the article failed to address.
As a former teacher in Kansas, I found it striking that the article did not include the perspective of teachers. Does the technology actually save teachers time and empower them to create meaningful connections in the classroom? Or does it undermine their expertise? As an educator, I understand the intention behind Summit Learning, which aims to meet the unique needs of each student while giving teachers more time and flexibility to provide individual support. At the same time, I also empathize with the fear of becoming irrelevant and the concern that the teaching profession is being undervalued.
If technology in the classroom is believed to be harmful, how can we adequately prepare our children for a world that is highly influenced by it? How do we address the fact that in the modern workplace, we have traded efficiency for increased screen time and decreased human interaction? The conditions described in the article, with children sitting silently in front of screens, seem reminiscent of our current corporate culture. How can we ensure that technology is used as a tool for empowerment and equality, rather than to silence and dehumanize individuals?
I am also curious about the underlying reasons for the backlash against Summit Learning. Kansas policymakers and Summit worked together to implement the platform through a community-based opt-in process, taking into account the lessons learned from previous unsuccessful top-down approaches. The technology has been thoroughly piloted and proven to be effective in many communities. Is this backlash simply a result of resistance to change? What does this mean for those who seek to challenge established norms?
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how do we adequately prepare our children for the future while also empowering them to navigate the challenges of modern society? As Kansas, and the rest of America, are faced with the choice between economic decline and a technology-driven future, it may be tempting to hold onto the traditional American school system. However, this is an oversimplification of the situation in middle America.
Schools all over the country and the world are grappling with important questions about the role of technology in education. Oversimplifying these complex issues and relying on clichéd narratives will not lead to meaningful answers. Instead, we should engage with teachers, families, and students, and ask the right questions in order to learn from their experiences.
Katie Boody is a former math teacher and the founder & CEO of LeanLab Education, a non-profit organization that supports innovative projects in education.
Disclosure: LeanLab Education and Summit Learning have received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which also provides financial support to .