Friday, September 9, 2016

Has Innovation Jumped the Shark?

That cultural reference shouldn’t need to be explained, but just in case:

The moment many would argue that
"Happy Days" became irrelevant

We’ve written about jumping the shark at the Underground before, and some would even say that we ourselves jumped that proverbial shark long ago. So in a sense, perhaps we’ve outlived our relevance. But you know what hasn’t?

The 3.5mm jack. This item has been around since before Fonzie literally jumped the shark, taking the obnoxious noise of the “on the shoulder boombox” out of the neighborhood and putting the music in our ears through the Walkman and countless knock offs that would follow.

The jack never changed, but we began to use it in different ways. Unlike coaxial cables, various other a/v cordage, that simple single plug jack accommodated headphones and computer speakers, it connected personal devices to larger systems for audio, and it even became a source for individuals and small businesses to collect credit card payments without the expensive equipment.

Now Apple wants to crush it. And they’ll do it because they’ve found the language to convince us.

Using language such as “courage” and “ancient” we’re once again being divided into the two camps of innovators and luddites. Did courage drive this decision, or was it just good business sense? If it makes more money for us, do it. And just because a technology has served us since the 1960’s, do we write it off as obsolete as a result?

Even on the Today show, hosts weighed in on their opinions with Matt Lauer in the middle emphasizing the dichotomy between the “progressive” and “traditionalist” sitting on either side of him.

A friend and colleague recently shared an article on Twitter and asked for thoughts. “Screens in Schools are a Billion Dollar Hoax.” And, just like discussion over the 3.5mm jack, we’re no longer talking about reality, we’re framing the reality to suit our ideals. So what are we dealing with in education? Is it an ancient system that we need to have the courage to destroy, or are the innovators just hoodwinking all of us to advance their agenda?

Let me be so bold as to tell the truth.

Children need to sit and listen. They need to follow directions. They need structure and order. They need to learn how to do hard things and realize that life is not always fun. They need to learn the consequences of their actions. They need to know that some things are off limits. They need to put away their phones and screens.

Children need to move and create. They need to figure out things on their own. They need freedom and room for spontaneity. They need to have fun and relax. They need a break. The need to have dreams and support in pursuing them. They need to use technology to enhance what they’re doing and even do things that aren’t possible without it.

Don’t try to sell me any philosophy that doesn’t address both of these. They don’t contradict. It’s what good teachers do, and it is what students appreciate. If not now, later.