An Open Letter to Educators

I just watched Dan Brown’s (not the author of The Da Vinci Code) thought provoking video on YouTube. His message is one that we really should take to heart as we discuss/plan/think about the future of education.

On a personal note I can’t help but be bewildered and frustrated. This message contains ideas I subscribe to in my educational/learning philosophy. I feel it is accurate in its call for a recognition that change is needed or else institutionalized education will find itself holding the torch of yesteryear. I am bewildered and frustrated because a program I feel is helping to bring this needed change is at risk. For those of you who don’t know, I teach at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Maine in the Instructional Technology program. To be clear, our program isn’t focused on leaning how to use technology. Instead it is focused on moving the art and science of teaching and learning forward using technology. Our program is about looking forward at what teaching and learning will become and engaging our students in that process. I am bewildered and frustrated because our program has recently been tagged for elimination by the recent UMaine “Achieving Sustainability” report. I am bewildered and frustrated because cutting a program such as ours (in a state with 1 to 1 access for grades 7-12 no less) represents a severe ignorance of the type of change that is needed to move learning into the 21st century. Society is moving and changing. How does institutionalized education move forward with society? We certainly don’t do it by burning the bridge that gets us there.

I certainly understand the budget constraints we are all under. There is less money to go around and something has to go. I certainly don’t profess to understand the complexities of the budgetary process at the University. I certainly don’t profess to understand how cutting a program with students in it saves money. However, I do understand that the future is here and change is needed now. If institutionalized education continues to stick its head in the sand and hope for the best it will find itself kicked to the curb and irrelevant. Getting rid of programs that are about engaging in the future will only hasten the process.