Aristotle once said, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Since I work in educational technology, this quote peaked my curiosity. Aristotle was a philosopher, scientist, and teacher, tutoring Alexander the Great and other great minds of his time. What did he mean and do his words still apply today? Let’s consider what he may have had in mind.
The end of Aristotle’s quote is easy enough to understand. We can all agree that, indeed, the fruits of education are sweet. Knowledge, learning and, more literally, diplomas and degrees are tremendous assets. Educated people are more empowered. They can pursue and shape careers, and contribute to the growth and prosperity of their community and country.
It’s the first part of Aristotle’s quote that is little thorny, “The roots of education are bitter.” Does he mean that life lessons come only from painful experiences? Or that learning is tedious, difficult or unpleasant? Does it have to be?Every day I see children enjoying the process of learning. The use of educational technology, advanced web-oriented methodologies, interactive digital content, engaging platforms, and other digital education methods can make learning not only not “bitter”, but actually fun.
- Gamification literally turns learning into fun and games.
- Young learners can get the guidance and one-to-one teaching they need because digital teaching platforms for real-time classroom management enable teachers to more effectively work with individual students at their level and pace.
- Tablets and smartphones let children engage with digital content on devices they understand and like to use.
Let’s not forget educators—educational technology makes learning fun for us, too. Today’s rich, interactive digital content is certainly more fun than yesterday’s dry, dusty books.
Big Data also brings sweet results to classrooms all around the world. Data collected and analyzed on every student, question, classroom, school, and more gives educators insight into why students get test answers wrong, how each student responds to lessons, what teaching methods should be replicated as best practices, and so on. District administrators, as well as government officials, can use these powerful analytics to see the efficiency and effectiveness of their schools and curricula, and can address the challenges in education as never before. Publishers, too, can use Big Data to analyze textbook performance, discovering the chapters that work well and those that need to be revised.
In short, as educators, we can now truly indulge in the joy of teaching. There’s nothing bitter about that!
Don’t get me wrong—I wouldn’t presume to argue with Aristotle! He was, after all, one of the first great teachers in history.
I only wish he was around to witness what the revolution educational technology has brought about!