Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Impractical purposes | Opinion

COVID-19 came back after Christmas, revitalizing schools, and administrators are returning to distance learning and expanding the role of educational technology. My dictionary defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”. For many teachers, students and parents, however, closing the pandemic gap with silicon devices has only further confirmed the impractices and shortcomings of educational technology.

Don’t get me wrong. I volunteered to record my students’ grades on a Microsoft spreadsheet before this became common practice. Plus, I keep checking my e-mails more often than necessary, I google beyond boredom and spend a fair amount of time every day typing words on those electronic keys.

Over the years, however, my own reaction from classroom teachers to most educational technologies has been, “No, thanks.” Tech geeks assume that anyone who doesn’t rave about the latest gizmo is “technophobic,” but I’m just as unafraid of iPhones, like someone who doesn’t like asparagus is afraid of green, stalky vegetables. Even diners who like asparagus and include it in their diet may feel like they have to overeat.

I haven’t met many people who were so important that they needed to be in constant touch with everyone and everything on the planet. I think the monthly introduction of updated iThings makes General Motors’ annual tailfin innovations in the 1950s seem necessary and altruistically motivated. Call me crazy, but I also believe that I am the best teaching tool in my classroom. At least that’s how it should be.

I understand that there are teachers, education professionals, politicians, administrators, and technology vendors who disagree.

The value of technology is tied to its purpose. When we think about splitting or cloning we should ask ourselves, “Are we going to do this to science?” Similarly, when we talk about educational technology, especially in a normal classroom, we should ask, “Are we going to do this to the students ? “

According to proponents, technology can turn failed schools and students into success. Boosters claim that “mobile learning” and social media uniquely “enable” and “engage” students by “turning education from something that is“ mass-produced ”at school into“ an individual year-round activity ” “.

In the online visions of boosters, pupils give “regular feedback on each other’s work” and teachers share “with the world” everything from lesson plans and “desk arrangements to outfits for starting school”. The organizers require teachers to “post” video lessons while students blog online, take part in quizzes and vote “whether they want cupcakes or cookies at the next class party”.

Games are supposed to “rewrite centuries-old rules of learning, motivation and success”. In our “limited” world where “your teacher may be overwhelmed, your friends wish you were doing your homework, and your mother just wants to go to bed,” a “well designed” game “believes” in you.

Flooded teachers and sleepy mothers aside, these impatient friends are likely the same scholars who can’t wait to “give feedback on each other’s work.”

Games “know you, or at least your skills, better than anyone”. Games can be taught through “scripted” characters who “talk to the children”. Games can uniquely teach students to “write about their learning”. Gaming classrooms would “rave” to the “sounds of deep immersion” as each child worked “as hard as possible.” The students are “so busy” that at 3 p.m. they “wonder where the day has gone”.

It may seem like a “flashy high-tech method of the 21st. Your kids seem to be staring at video screens like zombies, but it’s really” deep focus. ” They may appear out of contact in a silicon world, but they actually gain “autonomy and choice” by engaging in the game without adult interference.

According to proponents, more “play” will somehow make our schools “serious, more productive places”. More interfaces to video machines will somehow “make learning come alive”.

Let’s get something straight that should be obvious. I am alive. My students live. What happens between us is alive.

Video games are not alive. They are a formulaic, limited series of if-then sentences. They don’t have a unique ability to teach writing or anything else. However, they have shown a remarkable ability to turn children into video-savvy, self-indulgent automatons who cannot get up from the couch or relate to other people.

Are we really trying to encourage kids to choose cupcakes online rather than teaching them how to talk face to face? Does anyone really believe that a video game can teach writing better than a teacher, or can respond to a student more directly to that student’s writing? How do such absurd ideas get serious attention?

Unsurprisingly, corporate technology interests large and small are eager to increase their share of the sizeable public school budgets. Add in the technology-led “research” gathered by these companies’ educational foundations, as well as the reluctance of the educational professions to keep up with technology trends, and it’s easy to see why most of what the public hears is augmented Role for technology in the classroom.

Not to mention the numerous studies that show a causal physiological relationship between sleep disorders and the time in front of the screen. Not to mention the obesity afflicting sedentary American children or their growing inability to engage in normal social relationships.

In any case, let’s turn the school into an arcade. Let’s plant the children of the nation in front of computer monitors for even more hours each day. Let’s deal with them “working together” with “scripted” people, and then let’s ask why they can’t get along with real people.

I try to make my classes enjoyable, but I don’t want my students to think that learning is always fun because it isn’t. If this is what you expect, then when it is no longer fun, you will stop.

Learning is worthwhile, but it is often difficult, laborious and strenuous.

Acquiring knowledge, attaining wisdom, and developing character require more than just an appetite for amusement.

Glib promises have no value.

And no salvation in a machine, not even one that pretends to speak to you.

Peter Berger has been teaching English and history for 30 years. Poor Elijah would be happy to answer letters addressed to him in the care of the editor.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *