A frog dropped into boiling water will hop out in a single, startled ribbitt! But the same poor creature lowered into cool water that then gradually grows hotter will sit blissfully until becoming boiled frog.
At least, that’s what high school biology students used to learn, I’m told. Fortunately, I don’t know for sure. In my old school, the biology teacher never would have countenanced such a benighted practiceeven in the service of education.
Safe to say, though, the point is well taken. Failing to keep up with change can get you cooked. And that’s why a key mission of this newspaper is to give you all the news and information you need to keep you out of hot waterat least insofar as school technology is concerned. Of course, as this issue casts into especially sharp relief, nothing about the change we’re undergoing can be accurately described as gradual.
So let’s get hopping.
The highlights begin on Page One, where else? There, you can learn about the Florida teacher union worried about what will happen when its members’ students misuse computers. The union has put liability protection for teachers in that circumstance right up there with wage-and-hour issues in its list of collective-bargaining demands.
And while we’re talking union, the late, great American Federation of Teachers President Al Shanker used to pump tirelessly for “lifetime learning.” Now, it seems the dream is about to come to passwith one slight twist. The new report from the Software and Information Industry Association (see Page One) tells us how technology yet once again is about to change society as we know it. Something called eLearningubiquitous, pervasive, cradle-to-grave access to educationfinally is at hand.
Thing is, it’s not entirely clear schools will be the only ones delivering it. “Anywhere, anytime” education will be purveyed not just by schools but increasingly by national and international corporations as well. Indeed, the president of Cisco Systems says eLearning will be so big it will make the money spent on eMail look like a rounding error.
(eLearning! Where do these people come up with these eWords anyway?)
The trend toward corporate involvement in education continues apace. Just check out the waxing and waning of education “portals” chronicled in our eSN Special Report this month (Page 63). One measure of change, in fact, is that pretty much everybody has some idea of what is meant by an “education portal,” not a term in wide circulation just months ago.
Then there’s the steady march to prominence of standardized testing. Here’s no Johnny-come-lately of an issue. Standardized testing in the United States has been on the rise for years, and now is beginning to assume an importance in this country unrivaled since the days when civil-service examinations used to seal the fate of budding bureaucrats in Mandarin China.
No, testing isn’t new. So what’s different on this front?
Well, the private sector has emerged firmly in control of the test preparation process (see newly promoted Associate Editor Elizabeth Guerard’s masterly report on Page 43). During all those years when the Education Testing Service (ETS) was insisting you can’t prepare for the SAT, guess what. Companies were busy finding ways to prepare not only for the SAT but for most of the rest of the testing alphabet soup as well. Even ETS now offers test prep!
And on it goes. A guy running for governor of New Hampshire (Page 26) thinks schools in that state ought to make the classroom a variation on reality TV, putting teachers and students under the constant scrutiny of the unblinking eye. (Now, I don’t know New Hampshire politics, so I can’t say for sure. But if the rest of this guy’s platform is as inspired as his public-surveillance-of-the-classroom scheme, I predict he won’t be getting a casting call from the producers of “Survivor.”)
Then, there’s the gang in Georgia caught by the law in Tallapoosa making money in the high school drafting classliterally . . . $1s, $5s, $10s, and $20s (see Page 46 if you don’t believe me).
And in classrooms across the country, educators increasingly are using microphones and amplifiers to make themselves heard above the classroom din (see Page 28). Now with hearing impaired students, this makes great sense. But for the rest, how about trying . . . “QUIET DOWN, CLASS!”
And finally, not even your beloved eSchool News is immune from change. The newspaper you’re holding in your hands (unless you’re reading this online) has a slightly snappier look, don’t you think? In the spirit of the new school year, ace Production Director Chris Hopson has tweaked the graphics and tried for a crisper, more reader-friendly look.
Change is hard. I for one am not usually wild about redesigns of my favorite publications. On the other hand, look at ours this way: It’s like the weather where you live. If you don’t like it, wait a minute. It’s going to change.