Did you see the commercial of a bed ridden boy in a hospital controlling a robot roaming the halls of his elementary school? The boy’s face was displayed, to scale on the face platform of this robot. The 4 foot high robot strolled the halls, entered classrooms, listened to lectures, raised his hand, and gave audible responses. New and innovative? Not really. Merriam-Webster says that innovation is “improvement to something already existing.” There was no improvement to the learning going on here; just another way to control it.
The idea of accessing educational learning activities remotely is old school. Homeschoolers do it all the time, off school campuses! There are also other instances, for example where high schools students are assigned to large auto dealerships to learn mechanical skills on the job, and receive high school credit. When severe hurricanes hit south Florida in the 90’s, Governor Jeb Bush praised efforts of some schools that sent school work home for a month or so during the recovery.There are many other examples of students getting their education in other-than-traditional ways. Though this robot looks cool, and it is, it will be used to distract the public into feeling good about seeming innovation in government schools. My rub is that it’s still locking all teaching to a teacher-centered classroom, under tight controls; as long as “the robot” keeps needing that teacher-centered classroom, then it will be advertised as innovation. But this is, in my opinion a classic non-example of innovation in education.
Unions and liberal (aka progressive) school board members will not support the expansion of alternative learning environments in conflict with the teacher-centered classroom,no matter how effective. Why? Because in the “classroom” is where the money can be controlled, such as the purchasing of curriculum and paying workers. These folks are against school choice, and are hoping that instances like the implementation of the robot kid will prove to others they are for innovation.
I know about this ongoing, concerted effort to limit choice first hand, and can give a specific example that occurred during my time as the Director of a K-12, non-traditional private school. We implemented the McKay Scholarship – a state funded scholarship offered to private schools to implement special education services. After 4 years of implementing this in my school, and building a program that got much notoriety, my students had to forfeit their scholarship, and stop receiving services unless they (and I quote), “have direct and regular contact with the teacher at a school’s physical location.” This was a very deliberate step to force students into a “classroom”, and was spearheaded by the libs despite the fact that the effectiveness of our program was well documented. I spoke before a state senate sub-committee to fight for my parents rights, but to no avail. (Ms. Wasserman Shultz residing!)
When I saw this commercial about the robot kid, I was partly sad, and partly angry that the public is constantly being taught to abdicate their responsibly and choice for their child’s education. But I will continue to educate those that will listen – thus my blog! Thanks for visiting.