Technology Changes Delivery of Education

P911. Our schools are OOT. Our classes once had PANS, but today kids are BTD.

If you can decipher that, you are probably under 25. More importantly, this new lexicon is the wave of the future and few in education understand where it is leading the next generation.

With the introduction of the iPhone 5, it is striking that a world that is changing, engaging and developing so rapidly has an antiquated education system—born of the late 19th century, teaching many skills that are no longer relevant. The methods fail to hold the attention of students weaned on technology, who, in many cases, are more advanced than their educators in utilizing that new technology.

Reading is essential, but the focus must be on critical analysis. Stanford just added critical thinking to its general education curriculum. But if you are in college and you don’t know how to absorb and analyze information, you are already behind. Too many people believe what they read on the Internet, and engineers with degrees have skills that are often antiquated and obsolete as the pace of technology accelerates.

Further exacerbating the problem is the elimination of the most important subject that can be taught in schools—history, government and citizenship. The Constitution is not taught until the 8th grade, and the understanding of the document, critical to the life of our democratic republic, remains obtuse to most of the general public. The rise of the Tea Party is in direct correlation to their complete failure to understand that for which they claim to fight.

The same document that protects their free speech rights and right to bear arms also protects illegal immigrants from abuses, provides for equal treatment of all citizens regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, makes marriage a fundamental right, provides for due process for all people and establishes the rights of even Muslims to worship freely in the United States of America.

Reading and writing are still important, but teaching kids cursive writing in the age of texting, is akin to our generation being required to read and understand Latin.

Math and Science are very important subjects. But 20th century curriculum is failing to keep up with vast advances in both. Memorizing your times tables is unnecessary, the concept must be understood—but the recitation of math as we learned it in the past century is beyond absurd.

The solution lies in a whole new approach to learning.  We must change the boxed system where kids go from grade to grade based on antiquated measurements of success. We need a system that allows children to learn and thrive at an accelerated level, while providing true measurement before advancement. Just because little Jimmy is 7 doesn’t mean he belongs in the second grade. He could succeed in the sixth grade or need to still master concepts of the first grade.

Key to this new system must be a wholly integrated approach that includes self-esteem; not the mischaracterized false sense of heightened entitlement some confuse with self-esteem, but an emphasis on every child’s real value and abilities.

As my fourth grade teacher Mr. Williamson said, every one of you is better at something than everyone else. Somebody is the fastest runner, somebody may be the best at checkers, one of you can make the funniest faces, one of you is the best in math—each of you has a talent. My job is to help you discover that talent so you can be the best at whatever it is you choose to do.

That’s real self-esteem building, and it will be essential to the new 21st-century system we must create for our kids to be successful in the future.

And the above acronyms mean: Parent Alert. Our schools are Out Of Touch. Our classes once had Pretty Awesome New stuff.  But today our kids are Bored to Death.

Don’t tell your kids you know.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. Thank you Rich.

    As old Abe would say: WMTAAAA (“we must think anew and act anew”).

    I notice you pointed to the system as the culprit, not to people in the system.  That must be true.

    After all, millions of teachers and students have come in and out of the system, continuously getting about the same results.  As the famous quote puts it: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”

    The problem is that well-meaning school system management, year over year, unconsciously chooses this antiquated system, a system which consistently and reliably gets the results we don’t want.

    As soon as “system” is heard, listen for the echo: “management, management, management…”.

    That national treasure of a good school system (management, management, …) we all want, is waiting to be managed, with a little bit of knowledge about systems.

  2. It’s pretty clear Mr. Robinson rejected the antiquated and tired old methods of education when it came to learning word definitions.

    wean: Accustom (someone) to manage without something on which they have become dependent or of which they have become excessively fond.

    Rather than furthering childrens’ addiction to connectedness our schools should be teaching kids to be self reliant individuals. Otherwise someday they truly will need to be weaned from technology.

    And it’s no surprise that RR would have our education system emphasize such subjects as history and government. Unlike math and the hard sciences (and vocabulary) our liberal Democrat educators are free to redefine these subjects to whatever THEY choose them to mean.

    • See the first definition of wean—as in a substitute for mother’s milk.  Utilizing the verb as a metaphor for what children consume. . .

      If people understood history and government the tea party would not exist and Ayn Rand would be relegated to the heap of refuse reserved for failed ideologies.

      • The tea party ideology is never given a chance so it’s hard to see how it’s failed.
        Like a runaway mutant virus, The Dem/Lib ideology that you are so fond of dominates and overwhelms all other ideas- especially here in California. So blinded by your own good intentions you fail to see that your efforts inevitably lead to crony capitalism, a perpetually dependent underclass, and a huge government class that exists primarily to serve itself.

      • > If people understood history and government the tea party would not exist and Ayn Rand would be relegated to the heap of refuse reserved for failed ideologies.

        Seriously, Rich.

        I have no clue what you are hinting at.

        Unfortunately, I think that the constraints of the SJI blog really limit your ability to explain your largely inexplicable assertions.

        Do you have another blog or forum that permits you to accept and respond to substantive critiques?

    • Hi John Galt,

      >our schools should be teaching kids to be self reliant individuals

      That is a very important thing to get done, providing the conditions for students, whether they are children, tweens or teens, to develop their own will.
      You might have more common ground with RR than it first appears.  Our 1890s-based school system is big on compliance, which does not provide opportunities to exercise the will, and so the self-reliance and self-drive is often underdeveloped. 

      A more modern system, with processes consciously designed to exercise and flex a growing reliance on one’s own mind, and choices and abilities, to self-rely— that, I think is something we can all agree on, liberal or conservative.
      There are methods management can use, to reliably and consistently get those results of more self-driven and self-reliant human beings.

      All the best,


      • Thank You Bob,
        RR’s post reminded me of so many of Joseph DiSalvo’s posts. I think they both put the cart before the horse.
        Critical thinking. Creativity. Innovation. These are all desirable qualities and are a worthwhile goal of our education system. But they are qualities which are borne of knowledge and of experience- they can’t be taught. It’s the job of our schools to teach the fundamentals- drill them home if needed. Give kids the tools they need. Then they will possess the tools tat will allow them to think critically, to create, and to innovate.
        Teach the basics. That’s job #1. If our public schools don’t at least do that- and they aren’t- then they aren’t doing their job and it’s pointless to talk about things like self-esteem and critical thinking.

        John Galt

        • Hi again John,

          >Teach the basics. That’s job #1. If our public schools don’t at least do that- and they aren’t- then they aren’t doing their job and it’s pointless to talk about things like self-esteem and critical thinking.

          I couldn’t agree more with your priorities, of starting with the basics.  And you are also right, that schools are not doing this job #1.  This job simply must be done.  Challenging students to do something they are unready for only frustrates them, and sometimes harms there learning identity.  In management-speak, school system managers have not consciously designed a process to get this done, and so it doesn’t get done.

          I noticed you have a great faith in kids, once given the tools, taking advantage of them and progressing.  I think that is true too.  Kids, students do love a challenge!

          On our website, there is a Root Cause analysis of the school system from a management perspective.  It’s neither liberal nor conservative, it’s just process-management stuff.  If you take a look, I hope you find it helpful.

          All the best,


        • Nice comment- yes, it is another common trait that I have noticed in America that when people get excited about a “new” idea/ philosophy, many a time they throw the baby out with the bath water. That being said, there are amazing teachers who I meet on a daily basis, who make the process of learning exciting for their students. They make the real world connections and they also ensure that their students have a clear understanding about the underlying theory/ principle.

          Yes, Mr. Rich Robinson, we need to get excited about technology and consciously include it in our lesson plans. However, the design of including it needs to be defined by the relevance of it not because it is there. Modern brain research strongly suggests supporting certain types of activity that includes keeping off from electronic stuff and actually take a walk in nature. Being stuck indoors most of the time with an electronic screen of some type or the other has made Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl in some ways and a smart one in others.