I dare you to give a 16 year old a car but don’t give them any information about the rules of the road or a map. Tell ’em to just wing it. Teach yourself, kid. How well do you think that would work out? Just think about the damage that could do. So why do we think that kids (not to mention adults) and computers will just “figure it out”?

I get really worked up when I think about the state of technology in our schools. How can we expect that our children will be prepared to face the hi-tech world outside of their school walls? When they graduate from high school, will they be adept at the tools they will find in the workplace? Are they able to speak the language, navigate data, and keep themselves safe? Will they even be able to find jobs? No No No No No and No. They have no opportunities in which to be prepared. If the teachers don’t know, then how can they arm our future breadwinners with the skills they’ll need to survive in this increasingly digital world? The more I think about it, the more upset I get.

I wish I could go door to door and teach the teachers. Get them up to speed on what’s available (see Social Media in the Classroom), work them through their fears so that they can figure out ways that they can use these amazing tools in their classrooms. Essays in blogs, language learning via video conference, literary discussions in collaborative digital classrooms, higher math assistance available on streaming video, mobile applications that allow you to “adopt a creek” and report statistical data regarding the biosphere, architectural designs tested via augmented reality and 3D rendering software. All available. All begging to be played with. All limited only by our imaginations.

We need to teach them them how to research, develop, communicate, program, build, compute, be productive, and stay safe. These skills are only going to become more necessary. There simply has to be a way to gear up and get these people they skills they need. Our financial livelihoods and economy depends on it. You wouldn’t dream of handing a kid keys to a vehicle and not training him how to use it. Carnage will follow.

3 replies
  1. Dan Lyke
    Dan Lyke says:

    As a computer and technology professional who grew up in a community that actively eschewed technology, and a home that was aware of technology at a core level but avoided it at a social level, I disagree.

    I think we’ve wasted far too much money pursuing technology for its own sake, not actively pursuing curriculum goals. I think we’ve squandered huge resources deploying technology widely before we understand whether or not it really works in teaching. I think we’ve put far too much faith in computers, and far too little in excellent teachers and critical thinking and problem solving skills.

    There have, admittedly, been a few suggestions that technology can be useful, but that’s one or two small successes in a field littered with the wreckage of willy nilly purchasing computers, televisions, audio visual equipment, and what-have-you without an understanding of how those things will really support developing our children into smart rational problem solvers.

    Technology is a tool, not an end, and it changes far too quickly and costs far too much to adopt it without having curriculum based needs that it serves.

    • Kerry Rego
      Kerry Rego says:

      Dan, I absolutely agree that we’ve squandered resources deploying technology that doesn’t support bottom line goals. I’ve seen such a mish mash of tools, it’s saddening. I believe that critical thinking and problem solving skills are of utmost importance, in addition to the other skills we’ve determined are necessary for our students to learn.

      What I will point out is that we have a responsibility to prepare our students for the world they will encounter when they leave school grounds. Not all students will go to college or even a technical school. I think we are failing at giving them basic skills that will allow them to survive. We used to offer metal shop, wood shop, culinary skills, typing and more. Where is the business accounting? Where are the basic computer skills? The world around us functions largely around computers. I see adults that don’t know how to drive their cars or get money out of an ATM machine. Why? Because those tools are digital and no one taught them how to use them. It seems like it should be intuitive but it’s not.

      I’m worried we are sending kids into the world without giving them survival skills. They need to learn how to read, write, do arithmetic, balance a checkbook, fill out a job application, write a letter (whether with a pen or an email), create a home or business budget, cook a healthy meal, survive in the wild with no electrical tools, as well as data analysis, word processing, and internet navigation and, yes, critical thinking.

      If the most promising and in demand jobs of today and tomorrow are largely in the technology sector, why are we not realistically looking at ways to serve those needs? We’ve created jobs but we can’t fill them. If they can’t get jobs and feed themselves, how well have we prepared them for the future?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Dan!


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