Sunday, August 8, 2010

Liberating Learning - An Excellent Addition to the Educational Leader's Reading List

While doing research for a project, I came across a book from 2009 called Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics and the Future of American Education. I picked it up initially to use as a reference but I soon found myself reading every word and taking a surprising amount of notes.

The authors, Terry M. Moe and John E. Chubb (click HERE for their website), present a fascinating, insightful and thoroughly-researched look through an educational technology lens at the dark underbelly of educational politics and the way the current educational-powers-that-be have been influenced by political forces such as state legislatures and, more importantly, teachers' unions.

While this markedly political book and its assertions will be controversial for pro-union educators, the entire book is not necessarily a political statement. I am a big fan of reading material that falls outside one's comfort zone and belief system so, no matter where you fall politically (in terms of the politics of education), you should not be deterred by the political nature of the book. The most valuable information in the book for me is not the politics (though I now feel enlightened) but the educational technology research and data, arguments for the integration of technology into our schools and classrooms, and predictions for the future not only of educational technology but also of schools as technology continues to advance at break-neck speeds.

The following excerpt from page 72 helps illustrate why I like this book so much: “As technology picks up the pace, education will face unbearable pressure to adapt and improve through technology – a pressure that almost every other industry in the world has already faced. Initially, of course, the educational system will resist. Technology promises to change the fundamentals of how teaching and learning have taken place for centuries. But as education solutions prove themselves in every arena – including (eventually) the traditional classroom – to be patently more effective and more efficient than the status quo, the resistance will prove counterproductive. Adapters will be more successful than resisters. Technology will become integral to public education, not peripheral to it.”

I have made pages of notes from the text and have made countless mental notes which will be food for thought for me for days and weeks to come. Additionally, as we stand poised on the threshold of a new school year, I have gleaned a number of ideas to pitch to my teachers, IT coordinators and fellow administrators. I recommend adding this to your educational leadership bookshelf soon.

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