Education in the 21st century: Technology is a means, not the ends

Posted On March 28, 2019

Many of the jobs in today’s workplace wouldn’t have been fathomable a decade ago. How are our schools preparing today’s students for them?

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston” is on the front lines of that battle. Blair Fisher, head of school at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, says that incorporating technology into the classroom, while important, is only part of the solution.

“There are definite ways where technology, if thoughtfully deployed, can help learning, but I far too often see it where the technology becomes and end in itself, and it’s whatever is the bright and shiny thing,” he said. “I tell people that some of the best lessons I’ve ever seen have been tech-centered and some of the worst lessons I’ve ever seen have been tech-centered.

“Teachers, and I think Americans in general, need to be very thoughtful about how they engage with technology and how they utilize it.”

The key for teachers, Fisher says, is in the thoughtful deployment – using technological tools to advance learning and enhance the lesson. And despite a heavy emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education these days, he adds that liberal arts are still important to develop well-rounded thinkers.

“Developing a student to have a successful career, teaching the habits and the skill sets and the frames of mind and the self-discipline, all that’s needed for success in the workplace – all that’s extremely important,” he said. “But I think there are other ends in itself. You want to help create someone who’s psychologically healthy, someone who has maturity, someone who is a good citizen, someone who is interested in inquiring about the world and understands that learning doesn’t stop when you get your diploma.”

In an era where technology is changing the workplace more rapidly than ever, creating life-long learners isn’t just a goal, it’s necessary. “If we think we’re pushing out a finished product,” Fisher said, “we’re deluding ourselves and we’re setting kids up for failure.”

Fisher also shares why it’s important to focus on relevance, how reverse engineering also works in developing educational plans, why there’s still value in memorizing facts like historical dates and multiplication tables, why recess is important and why, despite the perception that the education system is failing girls, it’s boys who are actually at a disadvantage.

Join us for an educational discussion about the state of education in the 21stcentury.

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Education, Podcast, What's Working with Cam Marston