Thursday, June 08, 2006

Technophobia in the Classroom

The rage today is to be lectured by corporations, politicians, and educationalists about the importance of students being 'exposed'to technology, learning the latest computer jargon, and so on. One would think that those doing the lecturing were technologically saavy themselves. They usually aren't.

This game of aggressive language that oozes the progressive vision of technological prowess has a sad underbelly of passive acceptance and even outright stonewalling when acts of conviction are required.

What most of these loud advocates for technology education usually are saying is that they want somebody else to teach, use, and learn something new - "we're 100% behind you all the way!" In practice many of these people will not raise a finger to help themselves or anyone else introduce new ideas, techniques, or classroom methods. Floating downstream, attending meetings, and arguing pointless bullet agenda items is filling enough for their palates.

This is too bad. The tsunami of changes rushing our way will consume us if we are incapable of understanding and coping with their consequences. What is coming in just a few scant years is nothing less than centuries of change compressed into years and months recursively. For the Federal or State government to legislate quaint political homilies as these waves of change crest is sinful.

Schools need to stop testing factoids and begin preparing students for dealing with massive streams of data, with an information society unlike anything imaginable, with enhanced human counterparts, and machines smarter than natural humans can ever be. Yes, curriculums need to begin to address learning in entirely different ways, emphasizing entirely different metrics. And it has to happen NOW.

The ability to skim and assess information quickly is more important than memorizing facts. The ability to be fungible is more important than conformity and comfortable familiarity.

And so teachers who don't practice open-minded attitudes toward innovations and who refuse to change or exercise new technologies are teaching the wrong lesson. Stonewalling, belligerence, and passive resistence are unacceptable role-models for students. We cannot preach our global preparedness while educating an intellectual labor force of technophobes. Teachers, administrators, and government need to be active partners in embracing change especially when it comes to school and curriculum innovations.

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