Yes, they can read about ancient Rome and watch the videos. They can learn about expansion of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar. All that information is readily available. But it is filtered information. The whole point of learning a language is to be able to read source materials. I don't want somebody telling me what Julius Caesar said. I want to read it for myself. I want to understand what Caesar said, why he said it, how he said it - the works.
Technology has freed up administrative time.
Electronic grade books save time for teachers. Electronic tests and quizzes save more time. Software which allows students to master skills in maths, sciences and languages are huge time savers. Email and blogs make communications with parents and administration instantaneous and very efficient. And the tools just keep getting better and better. The less time a teacher has to spend on administrative tasks, the more time she theoretically can spend on lesson preparation and other purely teaching-related tasks.
Technology has opened new worlds.
iPads and wireless networks have literally liberated teaching. We can teach anywhere, any time. That flexibility is what makes teaching exciting and relevant. Decades ago you livened up your class by taking them outside on a nice day to sit under a tree and teach your lesson. The lesson was usually successful because you had your students' undivided attention. You piqued their interest with the change of venue. Exposing young people to the world around them both locally, nationally and abroad is an important part of a teacher's job.
Technology performs that function instantly and without creating logistics issues like taking a class outdoors does. Your history lessons come alive as you make virtual visits to places which were probably just names up until then. The pictures and photographs, videos and sound tracks really flatten the world ,...
One of the basic differences between private and public schools is the fact that most public school teachers belong to a union. Should teachers be unionized? My answer to that question is "Yes" if you teach in a public school and "No" if you teach in a private school. Let me explain why.
Public schools essentially are controlled by government at the local, state and national levels. They are funded by taxpayers at all those levels. So it makes sense for teachers to want and need some protection from those three quarters. That protection is their union.
Private schools are funded by tuition paid by their customers, i.e., the parents of their students. Endowments and fundraising make up the delta between what tuition raises and the actual expenses for the school year. Income and expenses must align. Each private school is an independent corporate entity controlled by school trustees, not governments.
Back to the public school teachers and why their unions are necessary. Public schools are funded to a great extent by local property taxes. So you would think that in reality public schools would operate no differently that private schools. In other words they would not spend more than they take in. But this is where it gets very complicated very quickly. A directive from the state to manage a program which has been put in place may have the highest and best motives. But if the state legislators do not fund the program fully, somebody has to take up the...
Currently eighteen states have enacted laws which provide scholarships for students from low income families so they can attend private school. These scholarships are generally referred to as vouchers. Do private school vouchers give parents' choices while at the same time sacrificing private schools' most cherished feature, namely their independence? In my opinion they do not. With one condition: the state or local government must pay the scholarship directly to the parents.
Most voucher programs have good intentions. But if a private school which is not subject to very many controls accepts public funds, then the voucher program could become a two edged sword. On the other hand if the school merely accepts students without being concerned as to the source of their funding, the school should not have to sacrifice any of its independence. After all, being mostly free of regulations concerning what they can teach and how they teach is what private schools are all about. For the sake of our discussion I am defining a private or independent school which receives its income from tuition and endowments as opposed to a grant from public funds.
In a typical voucher scenario the family lives in a neighborhood with underperforming public schools. There are a couple of private schools in the area which they would like to send their children to but really cannot afford to do so without some financial assistance. The state or local government provides a modest amount of financial assistance to a limited number of low...