How many of you have a physical key in your pocket to your school?
How many teachers have a physical copy of their gradebook?
How many librarians have a complete card catalog of their collections?
How many lunchrooms can feed all of our kids and keep up with payments on paper?
How many bookkeepers have a physical bank statement with every transaction?
How many administrators have a physical list of your staff incase of an emergency?
How many of our students have had a dog eat their homework?
It may be against some sort of law for a Chief Technology Officer but sometimes I feel that we rely on technology too much.
A few years ago, I was sitting at a breakfast table with a few friends and their dads. We were talking about where we going to hunt that day and the weather, sports and things of that nature. I began talking about scores and wind directions and other trivial things when one of the old men asked me how I knew everything I was saying. I just held up my phone. He went on to tell me how my generation would be the downfall of this great nation and that “one day some army will beat us with sticks and rocks because we are so dependant on technology”. I never forgot that comment.
So take that forward a few years. That gentleman is dead, only his memory remains. But those words came into my head in the middle of the night as I have fought over some of the things that we are doing here. I have read studies about how our kids spend to much time on this or that. I look at reports of our own kids youtube use. IT IS CRAZY at the number of hours our kids spend on things like this. But when you look at what they are doing, it is pretty amazing. Yes, some are just looking at gaming videos, or music videos or some other mind numbing junk. Then again, some kids are teaching themselves. Math, other languages, reading reference materials, sharing documents with each other that I would have never created when I was their age, much less shared with my friends to have them help me proof or complete my thoughts. We have kids who have their own blogs, youtube channels and have their voices heard by 100’s of thousands other kids. We need to help them find a healthy balance. Maybe that is what becomes our focus.
Now think about our teachers. They are amazing educators. They push our students to do epic things every day. BUT are they focusing on the wrong outcomes from our students at times? I look at work orders, emails to me and all the social media posts of our teachers almost daily. I have grown concerned that our teachers are worried about using the chromebook, ipad, app or other shiny thing and not on the critical thinking, strategies and just common sense that our students need to be successful. If the “internet” didn’t just magically flow through the air one day, what would happen?
Are we too dependant? Do our teachers have too much? Are we focusing on the technology and not teaching and learning? I understand that technology is supposed to be a tool and that it only is a magnifier of the teacher and the lesson. BUT do our teachers understand that? Does our culture understand that? Did we forget how to teach with chalk and books, or sticks and rocks?