Letters to the Editor

We have money to improve education today

It’s been encouraging to read about Horry County Schools’ willingness to test new teaching methods focusing on digital classroom formats – but discouraging that those efforts were so abbreviated, apparently only suggested supplemental methods to existing practices when vast evidence continues to mount illustrating digitally-instructed students are obtaining superior results in their classrooms right now.

Recent news that our Horry County schools failed to obtain federal grants that would have allowed development of digital teaching methods should provide instruction for grant writers regarding what works and what doesn’t insofar as which proposals were deemed meritorious – local educators ought be about reading the applications submitted by grant winners as useful guidelines for future applications.

Like so much of what’s required to improve education we’re too often confined by what’s being done now instead of concentrating on what needs to be done to improve. Abandoning old ways of “quote rote then test on what you said” is a tired way of confronting the future; real change seems so hard to grasp sometimes but grab it we must.

I’m not so jaded as to think our district’s failed application was denied having been perceived as accomplishing too little while costing too much – but I’m also not so naive as to think we were proposing real cutting-edge programs, either. We seem to always be satisfied that major change will require incremental changes, but that need not be true; though our entrenched institutions almost always seem to be carried forward on the waves of other forces, their unwillingness to embark on creative destruction is well known, and frankly too often accepted by those of us left with the work product.

Let’s applaud our schools’ leaders for their willingness to try but insist they get better at it; perhaps a bolder approach would help. The near limitless promise of a high-speed wired world interactively pursued in the classroom with on-site, real-time oversight by better-prepared teachers is, I believe the future of truly better education.

As recently as the year 2000 high-speed film requiring multiple-step processing was still the preferred medium for photography, yet by 2003 digital photos overtook 35mm film as the preferred image-capturing medium worldwide. Let’s embrace these changes to our world! Let’s dispatch our brightest, most curious open-minded perceptive local classroom teachers to locales where new digital teaching methods are working today; let them observe and learn and even improve on those practices in our own classrooms.

Real instruction will always benefit from hands-on techniques – don’t fear the loss of power or prestige or, worse, jobs. Those are poor reasons to defend the status quo. Embrace technology much like great chefs embrace historic recipes while also creating new twists on their presentation.

We don’t have to reinvent ice cream to enjoy new flavors anymore, but we don’t make it for the masses by churning it on the front porch, either.

We should move forward rapidly. It need not take a grant from the federal government to substitute new methodologies for current practices for comparison. Alter the current budget, dispatch those hard-chargers and get going now.

The writer lives in North Litchfield Beach.