Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Death of Monolithic Teaching

Differentiated instruction was a key word throughout my teacher education. As a special educator, it became a natural motto. As a hearing itinerant teacher, I am able to collaborate with classroom teachers to provide the best learning environment for my students, as well as work individually with my students to develop appropriate advocacy and compensatory skills. With all the support that is provided my students, they still at times get lost among the fast paced lessons that drive monolithic teaching practices. If my students, with individualized supports, get lost in the drive to teach to the test, and meet the minimum requirement, what about those students who are not within special education? The students who are lost because their brains are not wired for the same teaching style that I was taught.

Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson (2008) thoroughly dissect the transformation of education through "disrupting technologies." They claim that through innovations in technology, the educational system has the possibility to be transformed to reflect student-centric learning. Though "new disruptive technologies never perform as well as does the established approach in its own market (Christensen, C.M. et al, 2008)," (at least in the beginning),education will slowly be transformed by the adoption of differentiated instruction through technology. By creating an environment that allows teaching/learning to be tailored to each student, education is transformed from a monolithic approach to a student centered approach.

Christensen et. al (2008) describe the transition from simple computer based learning to actual student-centric learning through technology. I have seen this true in my own life. During undergrad, I took a few online courses. These courses simply reflected the same monolithic structure of a physical classroom. I was given text to read, assignments to complete, and occasional postings on a class forum. There was very little dialogue or interaction. Compared to the master's classes I am a part of currently, there is a community that is built around inquiry, discussion, critical thinking, and collaboration. Technology, along with innovative teaching practices, creates a virtual community of learning, instead of simply a class on the internet.

The monolithic classroom is dying...slowly. Teachers are finding ways to create a classroom that reflects 21st century learning and skills. Allowing students to complete assignments in different ways according to their preferred intelligence. Allowing students to be the teachers in the classroom. Allowing students to be creators within the classroom, as they are in their social world. Connecting life to the classroom.

Christensen, C.M., Horn M.B., & Johnson C.W. (2008). Distrupting Class: How Distruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns, McGraw Hill: New York.

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