There Are No Education Silver Bullets

Matt Barfield

Matt Barfield

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for some time. This is the type of post that sits there and every time I get into a different conversation, I think that I should write about it. I spend my days working to change education. I work in the professional development field and enjoy the opportunity to teach and learn from teachers. Over the past few years, the landscape of the classroom has changed at a faster rate than ever before. Unfortunately assumptions for easy change are easier to jump to and harder to do.

I hear things such as the following:

 

  • This math series will help our students achieve higher on their end of year assessments!
  • This reading series will solve our problem with unsuccessful readers!
  • 1 to 1 initiatives are the way to go!
  • Twitter will make you a better teacher!
  • Technology will save education!

Have you heard something like this before? Maybe even this week? These are what I call silver bullets. We put so much importance on one quick fix in education that we jump in with both feet and then when it doesn’t work in three years, we jump into something else. I have never understood this. When it comes to good and effective teaching, teachers need access to tools that will help them. These tools will vary from teacher to teacher and from grade level to grade level. It may even change for one teacher, day to day. Does this mean that schools must provide everything when it comes to the latest and greatest, or that teachers must master all of the tools that the school provides? I don’t think that is possible or expected. Teachers should be good classroom managers, facilitators, and supporters. Once teachers master this, the tools they need will fit in when they are needed. Save the silver bullets for hunting werewolves.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I love technology in the classroom and believe in it 100% when it fits the equation. If we buy technology for our schools and push it into our classrooms, and the teacher doesn’t know how to manage it, then I can all but guarantee that the program will fail. If we put a reading series into an elementary school and don’t work with our teachers to master the teaching of it, then I can all but guarantee that the program will fail. Why can’t I merge my technology and a reading series and good professional development into a long-term program that will benefit student needs, and not test score projections? Are we nervous that it may work?

I want to equip teachers with all of the tools needed to help students succeed. As long as I have the ability to work with teachers, I am going to make sure that they know good teaching depends on them and not their technology.

About the author: Matt Barfield is @GeekMonkee on Twitter.  Matt is a teacher, an instructional technology integrator, Apple Distinguished Educator, and a professional development guru for Promethean, Inc.


Editor’s Note: Join Matt for a free three-part webinar series, Best Practices for One-to-One Learning Environments. Sessions on March 25, April 10, and May 8 will not include any silver bullets, but they will include practical discussions of ways to make the most of one-to-one learning. Learn more and register.

Matt Barfield

Matt Barfield is @GeekMonkee on Twitter. Matt is a teacher, an instructional technology integrator, Apple Distinguished Educator, and a professional development guru for Promethean, Inc.
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