Increasing Complexity

Are the complexities of teaching likely to become greater or less in the future? Why?

It seems to me that the complexities of being a teacher will only increase. Our society is becoming more complex. It’s demands are greater. If the resources for schools continue to decrease, that creates a huge challenge of doing more with less. But when the resources increase again, there will be a great demand for change and improvement. The pressure for results will continue to increase but in a political system pressures to perform are usually accompanied by a host of factors which make improving outcomes harder. Technology will continue to evolve but that merely creates a steeper learning curve for the teacher and a disruption in existing teaching methods. Knowledge will continue to expand exponentially, driving change in both curriculum content and science-based teaching methods.

In my lifetime, not only will technology evolve but new technologies will emerge that will change our world in untold ways. Technologies that exist now will increase in power and impact. Cell phones alone have the power to change everything. Already I can make and practice flash cards on my phone. I can set the program to drill me with smart algorithms which adapt to what I’ve learned. I can be paged, texted or called. I can hear audio and watch audio-video. I can do calculations. I can even create documents, slide presentations, and spreadsheets. I can access the internet and it can access me. Each and every one of these attributes has major opportunities for school and learning.

I’m not sure if this is a saving grace or a tragedy but one other thing I am also confident of with regard to technology is that the actual uptake of the high tech possibilities will be ferociously slower than common sense would suggest. Yes, the technology speeds ahead but the world adapts to those changes at a very slow pace. We have already passed the famous fictional dates of 1984 and 2001 and in each case found ourselves significantly below the overall technology achievements imagined by the authors. That is the normal state of things. What could be done in the classroom and what is being done are very different. It seems like SmartBoards are the cutting edge at the moment and they are both not that high tech and wildly less effective than a proper use of that technology would allow.

So, yes, the world will keep getting more complex and teaching will keep getting more complex. But teaching at least will only move forward at a pace that the average human brain can tolerate. Sometimes I wonder if that’s true of the world as a whole…

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