Saturday, April 4, 2015

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I was searching Google for education images the other day. It came to my attention that with a basic Google search, the images returned did not reflect my image of education today. I started thinking about why this is so and the only thing that made sense is that the perception of education for adults who are not in the education field is limited to their own experiences. The sources for these images are coming from adults educated in a pre-millennial system. Below are the 1st ten images that came up from various Google searches.

Keyword: Teacher  Type: Any

This seems to be the general consensus of what a teacher looks like. All 10 images show a teacher at the front of a classroom. I know that there are a few chalkboards out there but I have not been in a classroom with a chalkboard in at least 20 years.
Keyword: Teacher      Type: Clip Art

About 60% of these images again depict a teacher's place is at the head of the classroom.

Keyword: Classroom     Type: Any

This search yielded images that focus on the physical space. 80% of these could represent a classroom from my days as a K-12 student. If you ask most adults to picture a classroom, their mental image will probably be something like this.

Keyword: Classroom     Type: Clip Art

Although these classroom images contain people, the same space design prevails; rows, teacher at front, direct instruction. The only thing that puts these classrooms in a modern era are the 2 with computers (on the teacher's desk)

Searches with the keyword "students" were so generic they could be students of any time period so I didn't even bother including those. I decided to try to be more specific with my searches to get images that more accurately reflect what many educators visualize when thinking of teaching and learning.

Keyword: 21st Century Learning     Type: Any

Hmmm.... Does this mean collectively we don't know what learning in the 21st century should look like? The graphics are obviously supplied by people in the field but interestingly there are few actual images of what one might see in a modern classroom. Clip Art gave me the same types of images.
Keyword: 21st Century Learning     Type: Photo


...but this was encouraging!

Keyword: Innovative Education     Type: Really did not seem to matter :(

Great concept but are these the best visual examples you've got? At least we have kids flying through the air with laptops.

Finally, I searched "Collaborative Classrooms" and started to hit some images that at least reflected my conceptualization for modern classrooms. The images still lack activity but at least they depict spaces that facilitate collaboration, are tech enabled, uncluttered, offer choice and are flexible for a variety of instructional models. 

Check this out for yourself with a few searches and discourage the use of imagery that perpetuates the factory model of education of the 20th century. I'm not saying the images of engaging, collaborative workspaces and student centered learning aren't out there, I'm just saying that you have to explicitly search for them. I think society in general still has a vision of education rooted in an industrial era. Society needs to re-image education to reflect today's world.