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Thursday, February 22, 2024 — Houston, TX

A development of teachers & technology

By Andrew Patterson     3/29/12 7:00pm

I recently attended a forum hosted by Sir Ken Robinson, of TED Talk fame, in association with the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program. He spoke out against the systemic failure of K-12 education, particularly its failure to harness technology and create a personalized, organic learning environment that fosters creativity and interest in learning. I started asking my friends how their own teachers leveraged technology in high school. Most agreed that the synergy of a terrific teacher and innovative technology occurred only when the teacher truly understood the furthest limits of the technology, and when the technology was designed with simplicity and power in mind.

So, why does this matter to Rice? And as a leader in technology development, Rice has the capacity to create the education technology of tomorrow. Rice should encourage students to develop and commercialize education services and technology. There is plenty of research to be done on effective teachers, and Rice has the channels to develop more outstanding teachers if it enhances its role in teacher education.

Rice is strategically poised to disrupt the ed-tech market. We have the technological (think ECE) and visionary (think Dr. Cox) legitimacy to create game-changing solutions. Houston is the cradle of the student choice movement, the birthplace of KIPP and innovative thinking about reform. We already have strong ties with Houston schools who should be open to trying our technology and ideas. Thus, we are poised to both design and experiment. Did I mention that the education marketplace is estimated to be worth over $5 trillion by 2018?

This past semester in my entrepreneurship class I saw a different side of the student body. Rice students are ready to sell. They're ready to sell their ideas, their passions, and their time to develop for-profit and nonprofit ventures. And once their ideas are refined, business plans written, and teams gathered, we can help them take it to the next level. A Rice sponsored venture commercialization fund for the next generation of engineering and education innovators would surely have a return for both the students and prestige of the university.

There were three paths to take as a Rice student interested in pursuing teaching. The Rice Education Certification Program, Teach for America and charter schools offer the opportunity to become a leader in the classroom following graduation. More Rice students are actively pursuing education careers, as seen by the large number of students who have applied and been accepted to Teach for America. The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of business has an outstanding school leader development program in REEP. Rice should consider establishing leadership classes for undergraduates who are interested in changing lives in the classroom.

I will close on a proposition that was repeated throughout Sir Robinson's lecture: Let those who are closest to the technology (students) dictate which concepts are worthy of pursuit. Similarly, those who demonstrate an interest in becoming teachers are well positioned to critique the profession and its methods. By developing teachers and technology, Rice can secure a foothold in a growing market and transform a broken system.

Andrew Patterson is a Jones College senior.

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