Educators have always struggled to define the kinds of disruption that are beneficial to a school community and the kinds that aren’t.
For example, no one would argue that schools work well when students are allowed to be distracted, rude, unruly, or constantly questioning. But likewise no one can any longer argue that schools occupy a rarefied, erudite realm or that students should be seen and not heard, passive recipients of wisdom from on high.
Gone are the days, we are repeatedly told, of the “Sage on the Stage.”
They’re gone, we’re told, because of the biggest disrupter of them all: the internet and the advent of educational technology. In a nutshell, students don’t need teachers to bring knowledge to them in the same ways that they did in the past. They need their teachers to help them organize, process, and package the knowledge that is being stored not in our minds but online.
In light of this pedagogical shift and the resulting empowerment of students through technology, the word disruption has taken on a distinctly positive connotation.
Still, I wonder if the attention paid to the novelty of disruption in education — by and through the forces of technology — are being overstated. Education has always thrived in the light of shared knowledge and questioning winds. And disruption has always been interesting and jarring to the status quo.