Looking at the resistance to change in education and the need for 21st century skills, with an intriguing perspective on how this connects to our attitudes about ADHD, Asperger’s, and other cognitive disabilities.
This is why – I think unconsciously – so many academics and educators resist contemporary ICT so fiercely. Accepting these new technologies means that the advantages they were taught to prize in themselves – their study habits, their ability to focus, their willingness to depend on authoritative sources and to observe classroom rules – might prove to be their undoing. And the disadvantages they despised in others, ADHD for example, processing information via pictures instead of the abstraction of text as another, the disadvantages that have been labelled as pathological “disabilities,” might prove to be advantageous in this new world.
That ADHD kid might be far better in front of multiple monitors with a dozen windows open and 15 tabs going in Firefox than the professor and former high school valedictorian who is really uncomfortable if a TV is on while she is reading. That Asperger’s kid who processes images efficiently might be far better at analysing changing maps than the text-dependent historian.
I feel the same watching most classrooms, seeing most reading assignments, observing how assessments are conducted in educational institutions. Yes, that carriage is wonderful, but the cars will rush past it. Yes, that calligraphy is beautiful but you just spent six months creating a single book. Certainly, that bronze sword is beautiful but the steel weapon will cut it in half. Yes, you did wonderfully on the multiple-choice exam but I need people who can find information and develop new ideas, not repeat what I already know. Yes, you read that whole book, but I need to know the range of observations from these twelve sources around the globe.