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3/5/11

It's Okay to Love Technology

I wrote this after reading a thought-provoking post on the Spicy Learning Blog.

When I first began blogging, I felt like a lone Luddite in a techno-wilderness. While writing about the greatest "killer apps" (sadly, not nun-chucks), I wrote about the need for technology criticism. I'd cringe about a glassy-eyed description of the future class erasing the boundaries of time and space.

I thought I was alone.

I wasn't.

It was pure arrogance on my part and I soon ran into Doyle's Science Teacher blog and saw the value of understanding the physical world. Using a more poetic, honest and narrative format, he managed to speak what I felt.

So, I wasn't exactly a trailblazer as much as a tech critic on the wrong trail. However, I've noticed that it's become commonplace now to put pedagogy above technology. I constantly read retweeted lines about why the real magic is the learning and the students and the thinking.

And yet . . .

To say, "You shouldn't love technology, you should love pedagogy," is akin to saying, "You should love the points you made about Sufjan's newest album" rather than saying, "I really love getting a chance to sip coffee and have a conversation with Quinn."

I expect an author to love his or her ultra-trendy Moleskin or retro typewriter or, God forbid, brand-new Mac Book. Similarly, I expect a guitarist to appreciate his sing-string companion. I expect any master of any art to love his or her tools.

The point is to get past the novelty phase and love the medium, knowing all of its faults and understanding its limitations. I want to be grateful for the medium, knowing its power and potential without trying to convince myself that the tool will not change me in both good and bad ways.

4 comments:

  1. Dear John,

    You can appreciate the value of a tool while recognizing its dangers.

    The tool will, however, change you. It just about always does. Part of being human, I'd guess.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's Babel. It's the Sirens. It's Vishnu turning monstrous.

    It's in so many myths that I am shocked we have missed the lesson entirely. Part of being human is creating tools. Part of being human is allowing our tools to destroy us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wish there were more people such as carpenters, painters, and plumbers who blogged. I would be so intrigued to hear their thoughts on technology. Do they struggle through some of the same issues? Do they just embrace anything that makes their jobs easier? Do they have ethical dilemmas? I know that it is an imprecise analogy to education, but I'm fascinated nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm just passing through the novelty phase and hoping that after a few days of quiet reflection, choosing when to class-blog, voicethread comment and google docs merge will be as obvious to me as turning on my class projector.

    But I see so much applause given to projects that are technologically very busy but...I dont see the point in so much of it.

    Engagement at the time of twiducating is great and all and it can fool us into thinking the core concepts are really getting through. I'm finding that I still have almost the same tiered set of learning curves in my class room.

    My students' Science-literacy and concept development may not have been enhanced by techno-PLNing at all but simply because they are on a learning progression anyway.

    In a recent survey I carried out (anonymous entries), the students loved the technology - but they still think they got just as much out of the teacher-led class discussions.

    I dont know whether to feel flattered or perplexed by the fact that happy engagement in technology did no more for them than my socratic chit-chat.

    ReplyDelete

John Spencer
I'm a speaker, author, and teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. I want to see kids embrace creativity. It's why I co-wrote Wendell the World's Worst Wizard and co-founded Write About. It's also why I want to think creatively about teaching and learning.I want to see kids embrace creativity. It's why I co-wrote Wendell the World's Worst Wizard and co-founded Write About. It's also why I want to think creatively about teaching and learning.

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