It’s 2012, and it seems 2001 is finally upon us. Computers are threatening to take over all that is sacred in our schools. The state of Idaho is in the news because Governor Butch Otter is of the mind that every student in his state needs a laptop or a tablet and that they should all take two credits online in order to graduate high school. Teachers argue that this expensive proposition will necessitate belt-tightening around the necks – sorry, waists – of districts, who will have to cut teacher salaries or teachers. Otter and the schools superintendent and Tom Luna say this is the way to prepare students for the job market.
And I say, “Phooey.”
(Read the full NY Times article by clicking here.)
This recent post about technology not being the panacea to end all panaceas came just a couple of days after an informal conversation I had with my kiddos. It went along something like this:
Kiddo 1: Why don’t we use the SMARTboard?
Me: Do you feel we need it to learn?
Kiddo 1: No.
Me: If we have a good lesson and learn without the SMARTboard, do we have to use the SMARTboard?
Kiddos 1 AND 2: No.
After reading the above post, I talked to a colleague who makes minimal use of the SMARTboard, too. She said she prefers to circulate around the classroom, and the SMARTboard tethers her to one spot. I mentioned that one could argue it’s just like a chalkboard in that regard. Hmm.
Small sample, sure, but no doubt many others feel the way I, my colleague, and students do. It is frightening that there is a camp that believes just using technology for technology’s sake is enough, as if such a philosophy will positively impact student learning.
And speaking of frightening, the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the computer HAL-9000 refuses to obey the human Dave’s commands to open the pod bay door is pretty damn scary. That we’re entering that place in our technological timeline is similarly horrifying. Computers are exerting their unflinching, cold influence over the sounder, more malleable and reactive judgement of humans. Why is this allowed to happen?
So, I’ll argue this simple point: good teaching is good teaching, and there’s just no substitute in technology.