Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why isn't this mandatory reading in teacher ed?

I am just starting to read over the Alliance for Childhood's publication Fool's Gold (see previous post), and am surprised that I only just heard of this publication (or its sister publication Tech Tonic: Towards a New Literacy of Technology) after spending the past almost two years in teacher education classes, which included completing one Masters program and now being almost halfway through a second one. And I only happened across the Alliance's publications because of a reference in another book, Todd Oppenheimer's Flickering Mind.

Mea culpa: I should have been more conscious of this technology in education counter-culture. I worked on Computer Professionals for Social Responsibilities (CPSR)-Berkeley's "A Computer and Information Technologies Platform" in 1992; I have been in CPSR for as many years (okay, membership lapsed for a year+, but I just took care of that), I have read a fair amount about Waldorf methods, I have read a good deal of Steve Talbott's work (which is in a similar vein), and worked with computers long enough to know many of the risks and limitations of their use in learning. I am pretty sure I am in an emailable relationship (i.e., they would open an email from me and maybe respond) with two members of the "Alliance for Childhood Roundtable of Rethinking Technology Literacy", very fond of the writing of another member (David Abram), have read things by another member, and recognize the name of one more member. So I feel like I should have been more on top of this. Why not I ask myself -- perhaps it is because the last two years have been such a blur of switching professions, trying to get up to speed on how to teach, switching roles again, taking grad classes, etc. that I have not really taken the time to seriously reflect on, especially, the proper role of new technologies in education. But that sense of knowing better, of not being more cognizant and critical and self-critical is part of why Oppenheimer's book, and the Alliance's publications, have made such an impression on me.

And this year I am a technology teacher, with the specific charge to help teachers integrate new technologies into the curriculum and instruction. I am in a Masters program cohort with other teachers in a similar position in CPS, and we have yet to seriously discuss what is appropriate technology in the classroom. Serious in the sense of what is a proper framework, why do it, what do others say, what does research have to tell us (accepting that educational research is so mushy and inconclusive), what does our own experience tell us -- personal experience as well as experience teaching and helping others to teach. Let's step off of the train for a few minutes, and consider where it is going.

That set of questions in the previous paragraph -- those are important questions!


1 comment:

Technology and the Arts in Education said...

You bring up some good points. I would also go further to say we should be discussing the philosophy of what we are gonna use those right tools for. Are we going to use those tools to stretch students minds and have them express themselves by looking at problems in our world and being contributors to the global community for solutions or are we going to create another word document! Our students are eager to ask tough questions and contribute new and fresh ideas.