I’m certainly not the first person to utter that sentence in reference to the integration of modern technology into the world of education. This was originally posted to our school’s professional learning network, Virtual Southside, here.
*Full size image linked in citation below.
Then what is it about?
Folks… our mission really isn’t about the “technology.” I think most of us are starting to come to that realization. I would love for you to weigh in on this assertion. I am becoming less and less fond of the “…if we’re gonna be the ‘technology school’…….” phrase. Are you?
To be honest, I never did want that. The reason we used the “technology” moniker is that: 1) it was largely “given” to us, and 2) it is familiar to all who hear it. As you know, familiarity can distort meaning. What we believe in is a move toward a student-centered, constructivist learning environment. The fact that we believe the best way to achieve this goal is through the integrated use of emerging 21st Century technologies… does not make us a “technology school.” A technology school is a school that is centered upon gadgets and tools. Some would say this is all “semantics.” I couldn’t disagree more vigorously.
Our goal as high school teachers is to deliver a relevant and rigorous curriculum laden with the concepts and facts of many different schools of knowledge… as well as (and perhaps most importantly) the processes of learning. “Technology” is not our curriculum. Nobody writes “use chalk here” in a curriculum guide, and mentioning any other technology will only date your work in about two years. Technological tools are way to interact with said content and process… but they are only the curriculum itself in a scant few of our courses.
Honoring PD in this area for once
I never wanted us to “teach technology.” I have always wanted us to use modern and emerging technologies to access and extend our current curriculum. Are there times we need to directly teach the best uses of a tool? Yes, of course… but this is just the first tiny step. The first waypoint in this mission is to ensure that we are collectively savvy as a faculty first. Continuing to put laptops in the hands of kids, all the while skipping directly over the lead learners in the room is just… wrong. It is ineffective, irresponsible and wrong. I’m so glad that we have a staff who believes in this important part of our mission.
Therefore, I would like to propose a new set of language about what we are doing as we move forth into year two of our initiative:
Really think about what this title says.
Finding our own way
I think the kids who have had the opportunity to interact with our cohort teachers this year are far more adept at accessing information and in finding creative new ways of demonstrating their learning than ever before. We have all absorbed that which we found most valuable throughout this first year. Our development should be allowed to be as close to the constructivist ideal we seek for the classroom. Why wouldn’t we? Some of us have even carried the torch directly into our classrooms at a very high level already. I have seen it with my own two eyes. The district “tech study committee” saw this as well in our classrooms in a recent walkthrough of our building.
With the coming summer of reflection and relaxed study, we will surely begin our second year far more prepared to bring this learning to our students in the classroom in a very regular and integrated way. What do you think?*Artwork: “move technology to invisibility” courtesy Will Lion on Flickr