This is the final part in a blog series I am doing on technology and culture. I am musing whether it is good or bad for us.
I think the answer may be up to us.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education earmarked $5 billion in competitive school reform grants to aid pilot programs and evaluate best practices. Major foundations are zeroing in on handhelds for preschool and primary grade students. The students, as young as six, pick up the devices and immediately engage in solving the math games on them. When the application is in a foreign language, they’ll group up in communities of three and help each other figure out the menus. Kids actually begin teaching themselves. Teachers can track student’s progress through software on their laptops. Everyone wins. It’s a virtual “pocket school.”
“What’s at issue is a deep cultural shift, a fundamental rethinking not only of how education is delivered but also of what ‘education’ means. The very word comes from the Latin ‘duco’ meaning ‘to lead or command’—putting the learner in the passive position.”
My point is simply this.
The filter we must use when evaluating our children’s maturity is that education should stimulate life. Whether it is sparked by a teacher or by a new piece of technology, it must ignite a hunger in this emerging generation to learn and grow. Technology doesn’t have to represent “passive stimuli.” It also doesn’t necessarily have to lead to artificial maturity. We simply must choose to use it well and guide students along the way. It is my belief that education must move not only toward “student-centered learning”, but “student-driven learning.” When it is empowered by the students themselves—it will work again.
Tom Vander Ark, former executive director of education for the Gates Foundation, reminds us technology is here to stay and we better get used to it. He says “most high school kids are going to be doing most of their learning on-line by 2020. These schools are to a much greater extent going to be a blend of on-line and on-site.” This should give us incentive to figure out how to use this scenario to foster authentic maturity in our kids.
What do you think? Have you seen more constructive or destructive results from technology today?
Check out the entire series, “Is Technology Good or Bad for Us?”