Are new teaching methodologies and new technologies considered "fads"? Is that a fair identification of their worth? I think not.
Recently, I participated in a discussion that centered on new trends in teaching methodologies, largely based on what technological advances are now at our disposal in independent schools. A fellow particpant responded, in a strong tone, that "there is a danger of succumbing to the latest gimmick so that plain and simple learning and teaching no longer take place, and are replaced by a fad. Sometimes it is best to keep it simple and not become distracted by too much that only gets in the way."
My question back at the participant went something like this: "What is plain and simple learning, without distraction?" The answer, after many iterations and false starts, is that plain and simple learning equals teacher-centered instruction with students in traditional arrangements of desks (rows). The teacher guides the instruction, the teachers says how to do every task, the teacher says what's right or wrong, the teacher..., the teacher..."
Although I admittedly use more technology in the classroom than the average person, I remain somewhat incredulous at this exchange. Do we still believe that learning cannot occur with technology? And why do we use the terminology of "plain and simple"? It makes me think of Little House on the Prairie, with students in their early-industrial-era rows, perhaps Shaker in style, staring at a teacher and a chalkboard, with a coal-fired stove heating the room.
When it comes to it, I think that, in most cases, folks are so overwhelmed by the advances in technology that they're scared to welcome it into their classrooms. Why scared? Because Web 2.0 technologies are so powerful that, by their very nature, they force the teacher to re-think instruction altogether. That's not a comfortable place to be for many people.
Education has come face-to-face with just how disruptive technology has become, and this disruption is about to create the next stage of evolution in how students learn...and how teachers teach.
So, is what we're experiencing a "fad"?
No. It's a revolution.