Skeptics of educational technology like to quote mid-century enthusiasts who claimed that the filmstrip was set to transform our schools. Of course, that didn’t happen, and so far projectors, televisions, personal computers, and iPads haven't made much of a dent in our late-19th-century-model of education either.
Yet maybe those enthusiasts were just ahead of their time. Could they have imagined a world in which anyone with an $8/month Netflix subscription, or a $79/year Amazon Prime subscription, could instantaneously stream tens of thousands of movies and television shows, much of it rich with educational content, to the device of their choice?
That’s what struck me recently as I sat down to watch an amazing BBC series, Walking with Dinosaurs, with my two boys (ages five and three). How cool is it that we can now harness the power of the Internet and decades of film footage to buttress our children’s learning?
I know what some of you progressive types are thinking: Children’s minds are not mere vessels into which we pour information. To which I say: Malarkey! Have you ever met a five-year-old? Their curiosity knows no bounds. As E.D. Hirsch, Jr., has argued for a quarter-century, the early elementary years are the ideal time to introduce children to the wonders of history (natural and otherwise), geography, literature, art, music, and more.
By providing a solid grounding in the core domains of human civilization, we are providing two wonderful gifts for our children: A store of knowledge that will...