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5 of education’s alternative facts


Sometimes what we’d like to be true in education turns out to be nothing more than alternative facts—here are some of education’s most popular alternative facts.

There are many alternative facts I choose to believe in my personal life; for instance, the salad I eat for dinner cancels out the cheesesteak I had for lunch; or the sale is so good I can’t afford not to buy a singing Margaritaville machine; or I’m completely up for going to a bar instead of sitting at home reading in my pajamas.

It seems that we all have these alternative facts we tell ourselves instead of the truth, and education is no different. No matter how many times research reports, teacher testimonials, or student performance metrics reveal seemingly undeniable truths, antiquated practices or beliefs about how students should be taught are still used frequently thanks to the citation of these alternative facts.

The editors at eSchool News quickly brainstormed what we believe are education’s most popular alternative facts that exist today, but we’d love to hear your suggestions! Make sure you leave your comments in the section below.

Alternative Fact 1: Learning gets better with technology.

How many times have we heard from tech evangelists and vendors that technology is the solve-all to today’s pressing education challenges?

Real Fact: Learning gets better with personalized, innovative teaching practices.

True progress in education comes not from the latest gizmo, but from practices that think outside the box in terms of helping each individual student. If technology helps support those practices, great! If not, there’s no need to use it.

Alternative Fact 2: Every school can use online resources if they want. It’s the 21st century.

Even the editors at eSN get caught up in this seeming fact sometimes. With so much coverage of what schools are doing with digital resources and technology, it can feel like every school is on the cutting edge of digital implementation.

Real Fact: Many schools still struggle with basic broadband connectivity.

Rural schools, schools in areas with high poverty rates, and many other poorly-funded or inadequately–infrastructured schools still have challenges simply connecting to the internet, much less harnessing the latest and greatest digital resources.

(Next page: Education’s alternative facts 3-5)

Alternative Fact 3: Students learn best through constant summative, standardized assessment.

You’d think by now this way of thinking would be out the door, but education’s reliance on the SAT/ACT, as well as state-mandated assessment requirements, prove otherwise.

Real Fact: Students often perform better with adaptive, formative assessments throughout the year.

Many schools and teachers are starting to assess students in this matter. Now, if policy could catch up!

Alternative Fact 4: Students today are tech-savvy

Don’t ask students today what a Sony Walkman is, since the only thing they know is touch screens and video games. Every student is a digital native.

Real Fact: Today’s students are not naturally tech-literate.

Just because students are considered digital natives does not mean they are born with the innate knowledge to use all technology effectively, especially when it comes to vetting internet resources or using a new technology platform for school.

Alternative Fact 5: Every student wants to learn with devices.

With the abundance of cell phones and tablets used by students in their daily lives, it seems like they’d want to learn on them.

Real Fact: Not all students find learning via devices or digital resources to be the best option. For instance, even students living by Silicon Valley don’t all want to learn via an iPad: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2017/01/12/ipads-ignite-furor-schools/

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Meris Stansbury

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