Math Teachers, Multimedia, and Classroom Innovation

In this article, I ask a provocative question that seeks to challenge the status quo in schooling methods: is the blackboard obsolete?

einstein blackboard

Many times, a person's love for learning is destroyed at a very young age. Instead of learning, they become robotic note-takers, mindless drones that favor memorization instead of actual understanding; because memorization is what will give you a high grade in the standardized tests. And with today's concept of schooling, it's really all about the grade, a value such as a number or letter that supposedly represents one's intellect and capabilities. Perhaps this is why any adult you'll ask would say that they don't really remember many of the lessons they learned in school--because they didn't actually learn it. This is what they call rote learning.

Aside for being good in public speaking, educators must also utilize the technologies that are available to them. They should learn new methods and mediums for their lectures. And I'm not talking about using Powerpoint and putting silly animations and images. That makes no difference from just lecturing by writing on the blackboard. What I am talking about is using some serious multimedia and innovative thinking to get students engaged and encouraged to learn. Here's a video where Dan Meyer explains how he used multimedia methods to create an interactive version of a traditional textbook:

You know how doctors call what they do a practice? This is because the learning never stops and there's always new ways to innovate and be better. The same goes for educators and I do believe that they shouldn't just be satisfied with the methods they use now and learn more ways to make their lectures more effective.

Parents should also be more discerning. Not because your children are in school it doesn't mean that they're getting an education. As I have said before, many times it's the school that gets in the way of one's education. Education is supposedly "the best gift parents can give to their children" and so parents are willing to give so much money to schools without really examining their methods of educating the kids.
venn diagram education
Here's a Venn diagram I made quite a long time ago. It explains how there is truth that only the student knows, there is truth that only the teacher knows, there is truth that both the teacher and student know, and there is that truth that can never be known. The effective combination and sharing of all these truths make up the concept of real education.

In the end, I wouldn't really say that the blackboard is obsolete. I've seen educators who just use the blackboard and still manages to be very inspiring and effectively lecture at the same time I've seen others that use advanced software or presentations and still be boring as hell. Teachers have the responsibility to innovate and become better each day. It is a practice, as I have said. Many students hate math or hate going to school in general. It is about time that we innovate and rethink our concepts of what education really is.

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