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The Light of Education: A Short Parable

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The children learned . . . by exploring, by playing, by tinkering, by experimenting, by asking questions, by becoming apprentices. . . . and all was good.  Then came the industrial revolution, and the people said, “We must make sure all children are educated.  We cannot leave any child in the dark.  We have built factories that create light, transportation, shelters, clothing, and food that won’t spoil. We will build factories to insure that every child is educated, that a light shines on each child.”  They built factories for the children . . . and all was good.  Time changes life as it always does and the people discovered that their education factories didn’t shine light on every child, some but not every child.  Some people said, “If we just make our education factories have more and better standards, then we would have a floodlight that would shine on every child.”  But other people discovered that this floodlight lit up some children, but not others.

Then came technology and the people saw that it was good.  They put Smartboards in the schools.  They saw that it was a floodlight that made the children shine . . . but not for long.  Some of the children didn’t shine after long becoming bored with the novelty.  But the people knew technology was good and when iPads, Tablets, mobile devices, and other 1:1 technologies were born, the crowd of people ran toward them and said, “These devices will put a floodlight on the children and all will shine.”  They saw that these devices made most children shine but not all.  Some children didn’t like the technology so they remained in the dark.

The people scratched their heads wondering, “There must be a floodlight that can be shined so that all children would be enlightened.”  Then came Khan Academy, the Flipped Classroom, and the Ted-Ed classroom, and the people ran towards them and exclaimed, “Ah, finally, here are the floodlights that will allow each and every child to shine.”

But a few people said more to themselves than to anyone else, “I like the standards, the technology, online videos, and alternative teaching strategies, but know children are as unique as thumbprints.”  So they stored each of these lights as spotlights rather than floodlights.  These few would show the children all of the possible spotlights and ask each child which ones would help him or her shine.  The children were given the opportunity to select their own unique set of spotlights and all was good.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm

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