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Forces Affecting Education in the Twenty-First Century (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Technology

Technological advances have always been viewed as support and enhancement for schools and other educational projects. During the 20th century, these advances were viewed much like new appliances that would make the home more efficient. Today, however, new technological developments (starting with networked personal computers) influence curriculum decisions, modes of instruction, and communication with families and communities.

Audio–visual devices to enhance curriculum grew rapidly during the last half of the 20th century. In the last decade, however, an explosion of technological equipment to enhance communication, entertainment, and retrieval of information has pushed young children’s education and interests in very different directions (Wartella & Gray, 2004).

Media, especially electronic media, has become a preferred vehicle for receiving information and entertainment. This has huge implications for the projects we plan in schools, the nature of the curriculum, the models we use to evaluate our successes, and the equipment used in future classrooms.

The emphasis on ability to use a keyboard at an early age, the skill in flipping from one TV screen or browser window to another, and the location of information in vast databases scattered over the planet all show that education outside a classroom will only increase. Linear paths, chronologies of events, and local schedules have far less importance in a high-tech-mediated environment. The new overarching frame of reference affects our work with children and all that we do with families and communities.

Religious and Spiritual Variables

America, as well as other nations, is witnessing greater interest in spiritual concerns and the expansion of religious practices in local communities and abroad. Most teachers realize that studying about different religious practices can be a beneficial and stimulating project that will enhance a multicultural classroom. In elementary schools, religious dogma must remain outside any curriculum. The science curriculum in American secondary schools, however, has been affected in recent years on the issue of evolution vs. creationism and intelligent design. Statutes in several states and judicial decisions have come about as pressures from special interest groups contested the secular orientation typical in American public schools. As different religious groups become more visible and expand their influence in public education, questions about religious beliefs and principles are likely to receive more study and adjudication.

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