Did you ever give any thought to doors? Right now you are probably thinking, “Why would I ever give a thought to doors?” Hold that thought for later. We never question doors. They come with every house. There are inside doors and outside doors. We build entrance ways to enhance doors. We adorn them with brass kick plates and fancy handles and elaborate locking systems. We never question their value. We never even have to think about how they work. We do not stand in front of them to contemplate their hinges, or handles. We use them without thought. It becomes almost instinctive. They are everywhere, on closets, on cabinets, on furniture, on cars, even on shower stalls. We accept and use them everywhere and the most thought given is probably the thought traveling through your brain right now.
In order to give this post a little more to write about, I would add a few more household necessities: the refrigerator, stove, television, and telephone. Can you imagine an average American home without these tools or a door to offer protection for them? Yes, there are people who choose not to make these tools part of their life, but that is a rare choice. It does not mean that these people have no understanding of these tools. I would be safe in saying that they represent a very small portion of our population. By this point you should have an inkling of where I am taking you with this.
I am a post WWII child. David Letterman and I are the same age. In the old days we were the Baby Boomers, or The Boomer generation. Now, as a group we are affectionately referred to as the Old Fart Generation. Even at my age however, there was never a time when I did not have a refrigerator, stove, television, or a telephone. They look very different from the 1940’s, but they still are useful tools for the purpose each serves. We have little choice in their use. They are similar to the door in that we no longer need to think about their use or purpose. It is a given.
We often think that we have choices in life and we do, but not everything is a choice. There are some things that our society, or culture, or government chooses for us. As Educators we once had a choice to use technology as a tool for teaching and learning. It was an expensive tool and there was a big gap between haves and have-nots. It was financially beneficial to schools if teachers chose not to use Tech as a teaching tool. Training, time and money were the obstacles of choice for change.
Now let us consider the objective of our teaching. I always thought I was preparing my students to be able to think and learn in their world, for that is where and when they will live. I am not teaching them to live in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s as I did. God I am getting old. The choice of technology as a teaching tool is no longer mine to make. My choice is how best to use it. Look around! Computers are everywhere. Computers that run our cars are probably more functional than those which were used to send men to the moon. I am not so arrogant to think that I can offer a student all he/she needs to know based on what I know.
For the generations to come technology is going to be like doors. It will be everywhere and people will not even have to consider its use. As educators why would we fight that evolution? Why are we not using that power to promote creative thought? Why do we have educators resistant to something that will continue to grow and improve the way we access, analyze, consume and communicate information?
The dumbest argument I remember from Math teachers in the 60’s about the use of calculators in Math class was;” What would happen if there were no more batteries. They need to know how to work without calculators for that reason.”We believed that back then. We were not stupid, but maybe a little unaware. It was a knee jerk reaction to technology. I guess math teachers had a fear of being replaced by calculators. That was a fear shared by many educators back in the day-being replaced by a computer.
We all look at something the same way, but many of us see it differently. I would like us to get to the point where we only have to think about how to best use technology and not whether we should use it. Yes, I agree, a good teacher can teach without technology and that will always be true. Yes, I agree, Technology does not have to be in every lesson. Yes, I agree, technology is not the answer to everything. Technology, however, is with us to stay and it is evolving. As educators we need to evolve too. These kids need to be educated for their world not ours. In their world Technology may be as ubiquitous as doors are.