Winter weather may have kept Bishop Donahue High School students home from school Monday, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have to go class.
So starts a story in a West Virginia paper yesterday titled “Snow Days Become ‘Cyber Days’ at BDHS.” It’s as if school is now taking on the postal service’s famous creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these teachers from the swift completion of their appointed deliveries of education…thanks to the internet.”
Words matter here, right? So, it’s interesting that the “cyber day” has nothing to do with learning. (The word itself is mentioned just once when talking about “distance learning"being offered by colleges.) Instead, it’s ”the school’s answer to lost instruction time.“ Because all that instruction time is just way more important than playing in the snow or reading a good book or going on Minecraft or watching a few hours of tv and just chillin’.
The principal says "This way, we can keep students engaged and continue with lessons with school is canceled." Really? This is engagement?
"Teachers sent online assignments in the morning through email and students were expected to get the work done by early evening. Students could ask questions by email in the early afternoon and the assignments were graded at the end of the day.”
And why can they do this? Because every student has an…wait for it…iPad “they can take with them to complete schoolwork.”
And here is the absolute worst part.
“It’s a benefit if a child is sick or hospitalized or if they are on vacation, they still have access to school. It’s a real benefit. You’ll never replace a teacher in a classroom, but this is an awful good way to still have education continue on days that would have been lost.”
Now, read that again.
It still shocks me, the extent to which we continue to dumb down the affordances of the Web and technology for authentic learning in the service of keeping the system grinding no matter what the obstacle. It still shocks me that even before we get to the tech discussion, we can’t seem to even get to the learning discussion. It’s all about schooling. This is the narrative we need to push back hard against.
I’m sure most read this article and think “Progress!” Instead, we should be thinking “Why?”