Too Much Technology?

What is it that makes a public school valuable?  Is it the information it provides?  Is it the opportunities that are available there? Going forward in these times of inter-connectivity, where the physical school building and the learning experiences are not synonymous, what do public schools provide that is exclusive?  What do individual schools have available that is not available anywhere else including other public schools? The answer: Relationships.  The face to face, regular social relationships that almost all of us crave are available there (or at least they should be).  I certainly remember that favorite teacher, the good times in classes, and the interactions I had that made my “schooling” a valuable experience.  After all, if Salmon Kahn can teach all the kids in the school Algebra better than the teachers employed there, why does the school keep those teachers employed?  Technology in the form of computers, smartphones, netbooks, web 2.0 tools…etc, are great things, as long as there is an allowance made for nurturing relationships where students feel valued and their learning is important enough for a personal touch by a caring teacher. Using online tools to grade student work, to set up outside of class meeting for students, and to schedule when things are due, can make a lot of what we do in school convenient, but when the use of those modes of communication crowd out meaningful, face to face contact, schools loose that one advantage they have: real, live, meaningful social relationships. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to lining up to drink from the fire hose of information available via Twitter or other social media tools, I have been a frequent customer for a long time.  Although I am not the most savvy user, I would like to think I am pretty proficient at finding and using the information that is useful for me to further my own professional development.  The beauty of the Internet and its connectivity is its ability to connect people and resources in ways that were not available a decade ago.  I believe the connectivity and sharing of ideas and resources has revolutionized many parts of our culture. Schools need to take advantage of and change their structure to accommodate the possibilities available via these technologies, but they cannot forget to leverage the one thing they have over the budding industry of online schools…real, live, meaningful interactions.  Need some proof of the human need for this live interaction?  Follow the tweets of the folks attending the annual ISTE Summer Conference in San Diego this June.  Inevitably they will talk about how amazing it is to connect with their personal learning network, live and in person.  It will be the most incredible PD available…..why?  Because they will get what they crave:  Real, live, face-to-face interaction with people they usually only interact with online.  Do we depend to much on technology?  No.  But we must not forget to emphasize the one thing that truly differentiates and gives value to our brick and mortar schools: real, meaningful, face-to-face relationships!

Photo courtesy of the humansocietyoftheunitedstates photostream on Flickr

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9 comments for “Too Much Technology?

  1. June 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Our school system is in the process of implementing blended learning methods and strategies into classroom lessons, projects, and units. When my teachers ask me what blended learning should look like in a middle school, I point them to two teachers already in the building. One teaches struggling readers using the Read 180 program. The program combines technology with balanced literacy strategies to reinforce concepts students need to be successful readers. The second teaches graphic arts…lots of technology there.
    While the technology assists in the initial engagement, it is the teacher who keeps them engaged throughout the school year. These teachers foster strong relationships with their students that extend outside the classroom. When a child knows there is an adult believing in them, they are more likely to be successful in school, and in life.

  2. Jay Steeves
    June 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Dave,

    In response to your post, I can not argue your point about the need for relationships and the benefit of those in the learning process. However, having been a teacher and now a principal in a one-to-one lap top environment I have been witness to an evolution in the definition of a relationship. I don’t necessarily agree personally with this movement but I have seen students take their on-line relationships to another level that I thought would never be possible. To a dangerous point in my suggested opinion. However, I have seen students become completely engaged with an on-line relationship to the point where they feel as though they are obtaining just as much fulfillment as their face to face relationships. Now we could argue that they really aren’t receiving as much from this form of relationship but my concern is are we prepared to stifle this new budding form of relationship building or do we need to embrace it and begin to try and understand it as adults. I know personally that I struggle with this but I also know that we need to take the proper steps in preparing students for this the highs and lows of digital relationships. Does anyone know how to do this?

  3. June 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Why aren’t more teachers thinking about how we can develop the next generation of great Americans who are proud of their country and believe it to be the best country to live in, who won’t bow down to pressure from the rest of the world to conform to THEIR idea of how people should behave and what they should be thinking?

    But sadly, we have too many teachers in this profession still under the spells of their blame-America-first Marxist sympathizer professors who brainwash their students to loathe America and its history, its traditions, and its vast accomplishments around the world for that past 236 years.

    What I am seeing from the last few generations are a lot of weak kneed and overly feminized men and overly masculine women who believe America is no better than any other country in the world. We have kids that believe they should get a prize without earning it. We have kids who believe they are “special.” And guess what, these kids grow up to be adults and they never change their ways of thinking. They want it all and cry if they don’t get their new toy or their next dopamine high. “No” is not in their vocabulary.

    “Please don’t make me memorize, it’s TOO HARD!” Bleechh!

    This is why America is failing. I blame many of the teachers teaching our kids because they ARE still kids in the head. It’s not standardized testing. That’s a smoke screen.

    I say this without reservation … our society stinks because we don’t produce enough Americans like the ones who conquered the unknown territories and liberated millions from tyranny during wars.

    Now we have a society filled with silly gadget freaks whose primary obsession is what’s the next app that’s going to be out this week. They spend hours at their computers while their butts widen and their attention spans become narrower and narrower.

    I don’t loathe my country, but I loathe many of the people in it, especially the ones that I just described. Unfortunately, too many of them are mucking up my profession with their nonsense and stupidity.

    • February 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      I saw this clip elsewhere mohtns ago so there must have been developments since.The shamelessness of the teachers’ unions and the teachers who supported them came across loud and clear. They actually somehow justify in their minds going to “work” and reading a book ignoring an out of control class in a school with an enormous failure rate as though they have no responsibility for that failure.They fight against and demean people who want to get a better result with students.These are people not worthy of the title “teacher”, people who use schools and students to generate an unearned pay check. They are disgusting.

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