Reconsidering the “Grammar of Schooling” in a Digital Age

Tom Hanson from Open Education recently emailed me and alerted me to a post about technology infrastructure and professional development in schools.

How Do We Ensure Our Schools Are Staffed with Technologically Savvy Teachers — Open Education

Unfortunately, in many schools and for many teachers, the above five suggestions simply are not happening on a regular basis. But the reason that most teachers are not up-to-date on technology is that they are simply too overwhelmed by the day-to-day responsibilities of their existing schedule to be able to stay up with the technological advances that are occurring…

Therein lies the basis of the problem for teachers. While students in other countries spend more time at school than American children do, most teachers in other countries do not have additional instructional responsibilities during that extra time. Instead, time is built into the school day for teachers to collaborate, to prepare lesson materials, and to receive professional development.

This reminds me of discussions that I have been having for awhile now; to take a phrase from Tyack and Cuban,
we need to reconsider the “grammar of schooling” in a digital age. This
is not a completely new argument, yet it merits renewed attention in
this election year and as OLPC machines roll out across the world. If
we are now considering how the grammar of writing is changing in
digital spaces, so too shouldn’t we consider what happens in schools?

Tom shares some insights into what teachers could do in the rest of this post. Also, he has a great deal of other postings dealing with copyright, open source software, open course ware and other related topics. He’s in my Google Reader now, and I encourage you to subscribe as well.

Author: Troy Hicks

Dr. Troy Hicks is a professor of English and education at Central Michigan University. He directs both the Chippewa River Writing Project and the Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree program. A former middle school teacher, Dr. Hicks has authored numerous books, articles, chapters, blog posts, and other resources broadly related to the teaching of literacy in our digital age. Follow him on Twitter: @hickstro

2 thoughts on “Reconsidering the “Grammar of Schooling” in a Digital Age”

  1. From my perspective the problem isn’t just educating teachers, but supporting teachers doing this kind of work. In Pennsylvania schools can apply for the “Classrooms of the Future” grants. When they get the money, it can only go to core curriculum teachers (English/LA, Math, Science and Social Studies). As a Family and Consumer Science teacher in a building that received the grant, I can go observe what the students and teachers are doing. I received a memo that I am not to touch the equipment. I have been using wikis and blogs in my class, I introduces colleagues to google documents, I teach technology courses for the district and for the local writing project site. When I have put in requests on my department’s budget for technology, it gets shot down. There is a digital divide opening up between teachers that have equipment and access and those that aren’t aloud.


  2. Hi Donna,

    I think that your situation points to many of the complexities that we have to deal with — school infrastructure, social norms, professional development requirements, and our own comfort levels with technology.

    Based on what I know of your teaching and writing project work, it sounds like you are making an impact on the teachers that choose to work with you. In some ways, I feel that this is perhaps the best way to initiate change.

    Keep making those personal connections with your colleagues and thanks for contributing to the conversation here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.