Are you a progressive teacher?

One argument I’m running against the ongoing consumerist classroom concerns why it has become extremely difficult for a teacher to be recognized by in-groups without holding up a device or subscribing to the brands values endorsed by market driven innovation and supply.

In addition, progression in education seems inherently weighted along gender lines. While women are clearly a significant part of educational research, innovation and scholarship, there is something about the market culture which elevates more men on the international ‘educational technology is cool’ circuit. Its a truism to say men and women who don’t agree with the ‘everything is awesome culture’ also work within the cultural boundaries of education – and therefore equally important and significant.

To me, progressive teaching means acting on changes in society and culture, which I grant you is often deeply resigned to consumerism and techno-wonderment. While outwardly sympathetic to the plight of billions in poverty, or even ‘poor’ schools nearby, this culture generally views education though the latest glass, as though western science has annexed the issues of mankind via an app or two. What does this signal to children who are forming views of how the world works?

One concern that I and many others share is how easy it is to mistake marketing communications from reality. It addition, the phrase “other people’s children” sould be painted in every classroom. Our children are not yours to media-manipulate. Please ask before immersing into synthetic markets.

There is no evidence to suggest children need technology to thrive or that basing the “21st century need” on market-lead, narrow, branded, educationally parochial views of ‘good’ technology has a positive effect on learning or society. Many assertions about ‘future schools’ are based on brand commodification of childhood and they techno-cultural interests of individual and loosely associative teachers. To me, there is a clear problem with online communication (and the ripples it makes into society) which over estimates its correctness and under estimates the alternatives.

Schools have used commercially supplied products for decades, but at no point did teachers feel a need to represent themselves as “Ladybird Book Teachers” or attend the “Derwent Pencil Academy” in order to feel, be or be seen as progressive. This brandification is grotesquesuperfluous and confusing when trying to identify progressive teaching. Think about those teachers and kids who seeing all this emerge but also feel their needs, ideas and preferences are now less important — does that matter to Chitter or Voodle?.

I argue that retreating from the marketplace is just as progressive and that shielding kids from manipulative media is progressive. Some ‘time-out’ from the brand juggernaut isn’t anti-progress. 

It’s therefore interesting to consider how the cultural construction of ‘progressive teaching’ impacts the careers of teacher. It will probably affect them differently, for example those who are new or perhaps old or sobering up from a decade of technology. Perhaps a progressive teacher is far more moderate than those who have been the loudest in the last decade. I’m pretty sure I want technologically competent teachers in front of my kids, but ultimately I want them to create media-savvy critics who spot product placement a mile away.


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