In the 1/6/2006 issue of "The Chronicle of Higher Education", Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University published an article that is getting some notice. In "A Very Long Disengagement", Bauerlein makes a few points that denizens of this forum may find interesting, primarily that,
The disengagement of students from the liberal-arts curriculum is reaching a critical point, however. And the popular strategy of trying to bridge youth culture and serious study -- of, say, using hip-hop to help students understand literary classics, as described in a June 19 article in the Los Angeles Times -- hasn't worked. All too often, the outcome is that important works are dumbed down to trivia, and the leap into serious study never happens.
In this, I find support for my own view that math education is not collapsing in a vacuum. I also enjoyed his remark that,
In the 1990s the gurus and cheerleaders of technology promised that the horizon of users would expand to take in a global village, and that a digital era would herald a more active, engaged, and knowledgeable citizenry, with young adults leading the way. It hasn't happened. Instead, youth discourse has intensified, its grip on adolescence becoming ever tighter, and the walls between young adults and larger realities have grown higher and thicker.
Seidensticker opens his section, "Computers In Schools", with a quote from Steve Jobs,
"What's wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology."
I quote from the first paragraph of that section,
Seymour Papert, an MIT computer scientist, illustrates how little technology has helped education with the following example. Imagine that a doctor and a teacher were transported from a century ago to the present. Technology has so changed today's medical landscape, with new tests, drugs, knowledge, techniques, and equipment, that the doctor would be unable to practice medicine. Nevertheless, beyond a few small adjustments, a teacher from a century ago would fit well into today's classrooms. Technology has been a huge expense for schools as well as a big disappointment. (pg. 103)
Seidensticker proceeds to document how, "Schools have had a long-standing immunity against the introduction of new technologies." He ends the section as follows,
I'm optimistic about the long-term benefit that computers can give to education. However, we should expect more false starts, each with proponents convinced that (despite the failures in the past) they have finally discovered the true educational potential of computers. Expect them to also shrilly proclaim that neglecting the latest approach will dramatically shortchange the future of our children.