The 21st Century – are we there yet?

I love the Jetsons. It was a cartoon series which finished in 1963 and had a revival with better technology to produce it in 1985. The Jetsons lived in the 21st century. Elroy’s Dad drove him to school in the flying car and then ejected him in a space pod to Dipper Elementary School. In 2062 Elroy had a robot teacher with all of its glitches. The bad boy is sitting there reading a paper book and watching a video on his phone watch. These watches are just coming onto the market now. Elroy has a jet pack to fly around the classroom and the school reports are produced on tapes to go home. No thought of email and file attachment or an online portal.No thought of e-books and the robot teacher is quite the martinet. So, do we actually have a vision of what we want 21st century schools to look like? Do we want robot teachers? Jet packs in class? Watch phones with wifi access? Flying cars? There is a black board with maths written all over it in this episode. When Elroy gets into so much trouble from his parents he runs away from home. The bad boy rings up his parents on the Visiophone and tells the truth about the report switch. We have video phones and, occasionally, we have children who run away from home. Wouldn’t the report have had the wrong name on it when George was listening to it? Do they not identify children in the 21st century? Why ruin a good story with the truth! So, while we are imagining an 21st education scenario, how much is it going to be as faulty as the Jetson’s predications? I love the Jetsons. My favourite cartoon. It’s a cartoon, though. When we are doing our thinking and planning we are in the real world with real students and their families. We need to be looking at emotional intelligence with regard to technology as well as dedicated use. Relationship building is a core skill of teachers as is trouble shooting. A robot teacher might be useful but is it the answer and if we create robot teachers, what do we actually want them to do and be? If we don’t have input as teachers, we’ll get technology devices which don’t suit our purposes, don’t suit our purposes, don’t suit our purposes.

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