Prensky’s Solutions for Public Schools Are Woefully Simplistic

John SenerBy John Sener

[Note: This article was first posted as a comment (9.7.10) on Marc Prensky‘s “Simple Changes in Current Practices May Save Our Schools” (7.12.10). It also refers to Steve Eskow‘s comment (9.6.10) on the article. -js]

Sorry, but I do not share others’ enthusiasm for Prensky’s approach. The idea to distribute 55 million tarballs is extremely expensive and highly impractical as Steve Eskow’s post illustrates. In fact, such an effort would be seen as a “Trojan horse” attempt to impose federal control over education, and face broad resistance as a result.

His other specific ideas are nice but hardly original — in fact, no doubt they are being done by hundreds, in some cases thousands, of teachers and thousands, perhaps millions, of students.

The real issue for me is: why do 55 million schoolchildren have to be involved in this? Yes, the BP spill affects everyone; so do thousands of other issues. Wouldn’t sending out 55 million tarballs deprive teachers of the opportunity to experiment and innovate, which Prensky purports to advocate? Please note carefully: Prensky did NOT say, “develop a program to send out tarballs to every teacher who requests one.” No, instead he proposed a blanket “solution” for everybody. The distinction is crucial, and not merely rhetorical, as it reflects an ultimately authoritarian approach to moving forward. Continue reading

Simple Changes in Current Practices May Save Our Schools

Marc PrenskyBy Marc Prensky

Here’s an idea to get at least something positive out of the Gulf oil spill. What if volunteers (or BP, under presidential order) collected samples of the tar balls on the beaches, sealed them in plastic bags, and then shipped them to every school in America for all students to analyze in their science classes. We could even throw in some oil-covered sand and feathers for good measure.

Doing this would involve every school kid (and science teacher) firsthand in the problem. They would see and smell, for themselves, just what the spill is actually producing, rather than just hearing about it on TV. Their awareness, as citizens and scientists, would be greatly enhanced. Continue reading