‘Technology just another tool’

Letters about new graduation requirements in B.C.

Editor, The News:

Re: Province to review grad requirements (The News, Nov. 7).

As a teacher-librarian in School District No. 42, I was offended by several points made in this article.

First of all, “The days of high school students regurgitating facts and figures … ” have long been over.

For as long as I have been teaching (30-plus years), we have been encouraging students to use higher-order thinking in their work, including synthesizing information.

Secondly, when the superintendent says, “We go with what is easy to measure,” she is surely not talking about classroom teachers, but rather efforts at the ministry and district levels to use data drawn from standardized tests to measure student achievement (and, thus, teacher success).

Teachers actually use a variety of ways of measuring student success in ongoing assessment strategies, looking for growth over time (rather than a snapshot at a given point in the year).

Finally, the point about technology reducing the importance of rote memorization is simplistic.

Technology is simply another tool, not the only tool, students learn to use today.

When accessing the ‘Wild West’ of information available online, students must learn to determine if information is accurate, or if the author is an authority in the given field.

They must also learn to properly acknowledge the origins of the ideas and images represented in their work, instead of simply cutting and pasting. This is the job of teachers and teacher-librarians.

Furthermore, only families who can afford such a luxury put smart phones in the hands of their children.

The modern notion of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) only works when families can afford them.

Because we offer a public school system, it is still necessary to have well-equipped schools, with highly qualified teachers and teacher-librarians to teach students the skills necessary to learn in a personalized environment.

Lucinda Tooker

Maple Ridge


No definition

Editor, The News:

Re: Province to review grad requirements (The News, Nov. 7).

The public should take note of two comments made in this article on the grad requirements review.

First, parents and students should be questioning the term “personalized learning,” as it is used by the current government and many local school district officials and trustees, when they refer to the B.C. Education Plan.

It may come as a surprise to parents, but the ministry and school districts do not actually have a working definition of personalized learning.

Teachers do have a definition and have always been personalizing lessons for their students.

Parents should be asking their local classroom teachers what personalized learning is and where it is being used currently in their classroom to improve learning.

Parents and students should also go to BetterSchoolsBC for a look at a definitive plan as put forward by your classroom teachers to improve education in this province instead of relying on a vague plan from government.

The second comment of note in this article is found in the following quote from our local superintendent: “Memorizing facts and figures isn’t as important as it once was, now that we all have smart phones in our hands.”

I personally do not own a smart phone and I know most of the students in our district don’t have them either.

They are expensive and not everyone believes that this or the many other forms of technology are the be-all and end-all to improving education.

It is comments like these that continue to perpetuate the false notion that ‘technology is king’.

In fact, the pedestal these tools are placed on by some demonstrates the great divide between the haves and have nots and does little to instill confidence in the government’s education plan.

It is disheartening to read such comments when we know our province has the highest child poverty rate in Canada and that many of our students cannot afford to purchase any technology, let alone expensive devices like smart phones, computers, or tablets.

T. Patrick

Maple Ridge