Are “Smart Schools” Really Smart?

The television just became the teacher for some students in Pennsylvania.

According to Herald-Standard, Frazier Elementary School in Perryopolis was selected to join WQED’s “Smart Schools” initiative, which couples PBS content with a S.T.E.M-centered curriculum.

With any sort of new endeavor in education, buzz words swarm around the topic like a hive of bees. Professional Development for teachers, lessons focused on S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and digital devices placed in the palms of pupils are all things that sound sweeter than honey to students, parents, and teachers alike. 

Problem is, the gap between possibility and implementation is a tangled web. The professional development offered to teachers, as most is, will provide an overview the product, delivering more breadth than depth; therefore, some teachers may unlock great amounts of success, whereas, others—regardless of the product’s intuitive design—will suffer a great degree of frustration. Additionally, tossing students a handheld device isn’t enough to claim twenty-first century learning is occurring. More often than not, the iPad or laptop simply replaces a commonplace worksheet, except the electronics require a solid Internet connection—which can sometimes be a struggle—and a teacher savvy to the quick swipes of students when screens aren’t always in plain view. 

Another troubling aspect of the report is that the partnership of Frazier Elementary School and WQED only lasts for one year and was supported by the Chevron Corporation. What happens when the year draws to a close? 

Sometimes, these initiatives that claim they’re “Smart” draw people in like a commercial, but they can easily cause classes around a campus to feel lost in the white noise of a snowy channel.

Read the original report from Herald-Standard:

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