Twitter is Changing Education. But Not School Desks.

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In 100 years, historians will be discussing the power of Twitter (and whatever else comes along and crushes it in the next 18 minutes).

In particular, they will talk about the impact of Twitter on education reform.

Books will be written (not on paper… for the computer chip implanted behind your eye) and movies will be made (again, for the little screen in your brain… not the big screen in a theater).Follow Me on Twitter - @principalspage

Twitter will define the first part of this century, much like automobiles ruled the early 1900’s (like I have any idea what I’m talking about).

The book/chip titles will almost write themselves.

Twitter Changed Schools.  Twitter Gave a Voice to Education Reformers.  Twitter was the Greatest Invention Since the Spork.  Twitter Rocked!

Actually, the last one will be a musical about Twitter starring the great great great grandson of John Stamos.

Since many of you will be dead by then, let me sum up how history SHOULD look back on Twitter and education.

Twitter gave a voice to geeks.

That’s it.

That’s how history should remember this point in time. 

Twitter + Geeks + Opinions = Change.

At least that’s how I hope it will end.  I haven’t seen the change part just yet, but I’m hopeful.

If you are offended by my inference that geeks use Twitter, get over yourself.  You’re reading a blog about education, an evil little girl, and a dog written by a school superintendent who barely passed Composition I in junior college.

If you’re not a geek, you could have fooled me.

My only complaint with Twitter and education reform is, I think we are talking (or tweeting) about the wrong issues.

There are all kinds of discussions(tweets) on technology, tenure, class size, evaluations, and school funding but not enough on the more important issues.

Like school desks.

In case you haven’t used one in the last 30 minutes, they’re still torture devices.

This Things Stink.

If you are over 40 years old, don’t even attempt to sit in one.  Because while you may be able to sit down, you’ll never get up without the Jaws of Life.

If students could only organize themselves into a lobbying group, I truly believe the first issue they would tackle would be the inhuman sitting conditions they face every day.

Prison inmates have nicer furniture (I know this because they email me).

How can people complain about the lack of progress with teachers using technology, but they don’t address the fact kids are expected to learn on what is basically a wooden crate.

And then we yell at them when they won’t sit still.

Like it’s their fault their legs are asleep.

Have you ever seen a 9 year old play video games or watch TV?

Newsflash:  they don’t sit straight up and down with both feet on the floor.

They sit, or lie, or hang off the couch in whatever position they find comfortable.

How can we expect them to learn when we confine them to a school desk?

Buddy the Dog has more freedom, and he lives in a crate (and a lovely recliner).

The next time you tweet about education reform keep this in mind.  Adults design schools, classrooms, and school furniture.  And they all look exactly like they did 50 years ago.

You want education reform?

Let students sit on the floor.

It’s more comfortable for them and it’s at least a small step in the right direction.

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20 Responses to “Twitter is Changing Education. But Not School Desks.”


  1. Jessica Reeves
    on Nov 14th, 2010
    @ 4:31 pm

    Ummmm…you should come see my reader’s/writer’s workshop; we ARE on the floor=) It is so nice to have bean bags, camp chairs, goodwill finds, and old cushions strewn about for the kiddos to read and write in. I love it. I would say the CA buch is always leading the pack.

    I love your posts…you have much humor…for an administrator that is=)

    Jessica


  2. George Shirey
    on Nov 14th, 2010
    @ 4:31 pm

    This has to be one of the best articles I’ve ever read about #edreform. Just your picture there made me cringe. Does your school have a solution to this? I imagine there are very pragmatic reasons (no cloth to stain comes to mind) that we use these torture devices – but with the amount of $ we throw at education, I’d think we could come up with a better way! Keep up the good work.


  3. Olwyn Hughes
    on Nov 14th, 2010
    @ 5:12 pm

    Bravo!!!! I have 22 children in my class and seating for about 12 of them. They have to decide where to work for different activities; sitting at a table or desk, lying on the floor, sitting cross legged on the floor with their work in their laps, standing at the one tall table in my room etc. This is VERY WEIRD to some of my colleagues (mostly the ones who still have desks in rows like the dark ages) but makes total sense to me. If we are all about 21st century teaching and learning and spending time talking about the different ways kids learn, then shouldn’t we be providing them with choice about how they sit or stand or lie down to do their work? Seems like a no brainer to me but, as I am sure you have figured out by now, I am ahead of the curve! LOL


  4. Dana
    on Nov 14th, 2010
    @ 6:10 pm

    My son was sent to the Principal’s office no less that two times/week during his three years of middle school for “disrupting” the class … and by “disrupting” I mean not sitting straight with both feet on the floor.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    I bet it was more of a distraction to send him to the office.


  5. Alfred Thompson
    on Nov 14th, 2010
    @ 6:40 pm

    A company donated very comfortable office chairs with wheels on them for my computer lab some years ago. Predictions of disaster flew from all directions. As it turns out they were great for productivity. Just like in a real office. Imagine that!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Alfred Thompson, Kids can be trusted.

    Often times, more than adults.


  6. Cheesy
    on Nov 15th, 2010
    @ 2:19 am

    Brilliant!
    We actually have a class at our school with variable shaped and sized furniture to ch’n can lounge, sit, lie etc in any way they please to use the space – its rather marvelous and with any luck the rest of us may get same such next year – of course it all depends on finances!

    I still have the normal desks and char space in my room – BUT the ch’n are always allowed to sit. lie anywhere they like and I also purchased a crusty old couch for them too from cheapo second hand store and covered it with a sheet -they fight over that space [LOL - works with ruling only one seating per day - otherwise seriously fights would break out!]

    variable spaces and furniture situations are a must in todays classes – as teachers need to embrace different learning spaces/styles even with limited resources


  7. Elizabeth Peterson
    on Nov 15th, 2010
    @ 4:03 am

    Great post! Interesting point. It got me thinking. As a fourth grade teacher I still use the, “Come to the rug area” phrase a lot in my teaching. I think to myself, this must get old for the kids and, now that I think of it, I actually start to ween them off the rug and get them more used to sitting and working at their desks since that is where they will spend most of their time when they move up to the middle school. (I taught MS, I know!)

    BUT – when my students are sitting with me on the rug, or working together on the floor, or using the various desks how they want by standing up or sitting at them, they are so much more focused. When they are at their seats, spread around the room, I feel I need to put on a circus act to get them to pay attention to the lesson!

    Good food for thought here! Would love to hear more comments on this.


  8. Melissa
    on Nov 15th, 2010
    @ 8:09 pm

    Great post! In my classroom, all of my 3rd graders sit on exercise ball chairs! My students are attentive, comfortable & moving is ENCOURAGED! When your body is engaged, your brain is engaged. The Mayo Clinic has conducted a study on the benefits of chair-less classrooms. The study showed that students with attention problems could focus better using the exercise balls for chairs. The balls allowed movement without making noise or disturbing others. The children that require extra movement get the opportunity to do so silently.


  9. Katy Gartside
    on Nov 15th, 2010
    @ 10:19 pm

    In my 5th grade classroom my students sit at tables, sprawl on the floor, use the standing desks with swingbars, or use yoga balls instead of chairs – always their choice. It’s interesting to see that their choice is sometimes determined by activity. The yoga balls were a trial and have gone so well I’m going to order more. I totally agree with the previous comment about the benefits of yoga balls – I have read similar reports.
    I recently visited a school who had chairs exactly like the one pictured in your post, and I was a little stunned to still see them in action. And talk about uncomfortable!


  10. Rockin' Mama
    on Nov 16th, 2010
    @ 5:36 pm

    Montessori schools don’t have desks. Our kids each have rugs that they roll out on the ground to complete their work. It maintains the sense of having their own space while allowing them to be comfortable.


  11. Nick James
    on Nov 17th, 2010
    @ 7:16 pm

    Today in class we talked about child labor in the late 1800′s. During that conversation I showed the class a picture of young boys at a cigar factory where that sat at desks for twelve to fourteen hours a day doing tedious, mindless work. I was pleasantly surprised at how was my students drew the parallel.

    It also made me think of this post.


  12. Whitney Hoffman
    on Nov 18th, 2010
    @ 11:41 am

    Here’s one suggestion- the Node chair is expensive, but maybe it’s a bit more comfy- otherwise we have to get every kid to bring their own aeron chair to school.


  13. Whitney Hoffman
    on Nov 18th, 2010
    @ 11:41 am

    D’oh- here’s the link: http://www.steelcase.com/en/products/category/educational/seating/node/pages/node.aspx


  14. Whitney Hoffman
    on Nov 19th, 2010
    @ 6:07 am

    Here’s a link to a video about how some school desks are being reimagined- now if we can just find the money to pay for them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0IiJ7VBXt8


  15. Clifford
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 7:10 am

    Found you on Google. Any other Supts blogging.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Clifford, Unfortunately no.

    If they were I could retire.


  16. Ben
    on Dec 9th, 2010
    @ 8:01 pm

    Brilliant post. Or should I say blog.


  17. Braden Locks
    on Apr 8th, 2012
    @ 9:31 pm

    This is the best blog for kinda of education info. A+++.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.