Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Computers and Technology In Schools

I recently ran across two thought-provoking articles in Orion magazine on the use of computers and technology in education.

In the article Is It Time to Unplug Our Schools?, Lowell Monke writes,

"Schools would establish life as the measure of value, not machines. They would be dedicated to showing young people how to live as dignified members of an increasingly mediated and fragile world. And they would consciously work to cool down society’s infatuation with technology while heating up our concern for those we live with and the Earth we live on."

In his article Charlotte’s Webpage he goes on to say,


"Technology can provide enormous assistance in figuring out how to do things, but it turns mute when it comes to determining what we should do. Without any such moral grounding, the dependence on computers encourages a manipulative, “whatever works” attitude toward others. It also reinforces the exploitative relationship to the environment that has plagued Western society since Descartes first expressed his desire to “seize nature by the throat.”

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We need education that teaches people how to think - critically, with knowledge of context, interconnectedness, history, and world views...how to examine things for what they are rather than what someone, or the media, wants us to think they are.

Instead of focusing resources on technology and computers in classrooms, or allowing children to use these devices to excess at home - we need to teach the basics - reading, writing and arithmetic - how to interact with other people, be a good citizen, a member of a team.

Children need to know how to have real conversations, debate ideas, think on their feet - not just sit in front of a screen or a book.

We need shop classes so kids get a chance to use tools, home economics so they can learn to cook and sew - music, art, physical education and philosophy classes - chances to interact with the natural world, time for play.

Anyone - including scientists, engineers and technologists, should be educated in the Humanities and Liberal Arts.

It's a matter of learning how to think, ask questions, communicate and understand how we can make the world a better (or worse) place to live for all people.

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