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May 9, 2012

Digital Football

Now that the College Board and the Deeper Learning Project have shown us the way to save time and money in the schools by assessing student writing by computer at the rate, as the College Board has reported, of 16,000 samples in 20 seconds, it is surely time to look for new ways to save money and time with exciting new digital technology.

School sports presently take hundreds of hours out of the academic year, not just in matches and games, but in the countless hours of practice demanded, not only out of student time, but of faculty time as well.

Finland has solved this particular problem by having no sports offered in its educational institutions. If students want to play some sport, they can join a club in the community. This saves an enormous amount of time for both students and faculty in the academic calendar year.

Of course, the Finnish approach is out of the question for high schools in the United States for many reasons, but that does not mean that exciting new 21st Century technology cannot make an exciting new contribution.

Here the United States military has shown us the way. Instead of using up oceans of jet fuel, of the sort now needed not only for aircraft but for Abrams tanks as well, much of the student/soldier/airman training time is now spent in computer simulators.

Just think what simulators could do for high school sports! It would still be necessary to put time aside for actual football, basketball, soccer, baseball and other games and matches, but the time now absorbed on the practice fields could perhaps, with the right new software and computers, be transferred to computer simulators for each activity.

The initial cost would be enormous, of course, and great news for the technology companies who now seem so interested in education, and demands on student time might not be diminished that much, but just think of the former coaching time saved for our teachers!

At last they might be able to assign those serious academic research papers they have had to avoid for so long because they simply did not have the time to devote to guide students in writing them.

The great majority of our public high school students now graduate without ever having read a complete nonfiction book or written one serious research paper, and so they continue to go off to further education greatly unprepared for the reading and writing requirements they encounter.

But with these new computer sports simulators, that can be remedied. Teachers will once again have the time, saved for them by the computer simulations, to assign and discuss actual history books and to work with students on their academic expository writing, which has been so sadly neglected because of other demands, such as coaching, that have traditionally been placed on teacher time.

It is very exciting to realize that modern 21st Century technology might be able to do as much good for academic reading and writing as it is apparently doing with the blindingly swift, superficial, and moronic "assessment" it is now employed to offer with those tens of thousands of formulaic meaningless samples of student writing!

Posted by Will Fitzhugh at May 9, 2012 5:32 PM
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