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Posts Tagged ‘classism

Is There a Digital Divide or an Intellectual-Pedagogical One?

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This post includes a number of wonderings . . .

For the past few days, there has been some controversy over a TED talk that included some commentary about classism. See the Time article Was Nick Hanauer’s TED Talk on Income Inequality Too Rich for Rich People? for a synopsis.  The basic premise was that the talk was censored from public viewing due to it being offensive to the wealthy folks that pay to attend the TED conference.

I really love watching TED talks but this controversy got me thinking about intellectual elitism.  I cannot nor will ever be able to afford to go to a TED conference but I can watch them online.  I often ask, in group settings, if folks heard of TED.  Groups that contain higher education faculty and teachers, who are engaged in social networks, do know of TED talks.  My college students and friends, many who are of lower SES levels, have not.

I wonder what would happen if I were to ask this question of the larger population. I believe the results would show that more higher income folks would know about the TED talks than lower income folks.

I have the privilege of using my laptop, iPhone, and iPad to learn about anything I want throughout the day.  These devices along with skills I gained about how to learn have provided me with opportunities to access information I desire. I am wondering if folks from lower income brackets can say the same.

The use of technology use by our society has sparked discussion about the digital divide.

Such numbers may seem proof that America is, indeed, online. But they mask an emerging division, one that has worrisome implications for our economy and society. Increasingly, we are a country in which only the urban and suburban well-off have truly high-speed Internet access, while the rest — the poor and the working class — either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet. As our jobs, entertainment, politics and even health care move online, millions are at risk of being left behind.

  • But I wonder if the digital divide is really an intellectual or pedagogical one.
  • I wonder that if a comparison was done of higher and lower income schools, what would be the ratio of 1:1 (one mobile device per student during school time) initiatives?
  • I wonder, for those lower income schools, how many students have computer devices at home that match those they are using in school.
  • Even considering the new Ted-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing, I wonder which schools are using the lessons.
  • I wonder if technology integration strategies are similar for higher income schools in comparison to lower income skills.

Are we sugarcoating a larger sociological issue of classism in our school systems? Thirty years ago, Jean Anyon wrote Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

It’s no surprise that schools in wealthy communities are better than those in poor communities, or that they better prepare their students for desirable jobs. It may be shocking, however, to learn how vast the differences in schools are – not so much in resources as in teaching methods and philosophies of education.

I fear that the digital divide is really an intellectual and pedagogical one and that it is being perpetuated in our educational system by the use or lack thereof of the technologies that are influencing and driving our society-at-large.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

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