Technology. It won’t disappear.

Graduate school orientation at Nazareth College back in July or August was not a problem. Registering for my classes, also not a problem. Purchasing texts (while surprisingly expensive) was not daunting activity. And organizing and setting myself up for the coming semester played into one of my strengths. Finally making the decision to return to graduate school at my age, and in the field of Childhood Education, however, was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made as an adult. Am I too old for this? Am I ready for the challenge and rigor that is graduate school? Will I make a good teacher at the end of it all?

One of the worries about pursuing a career as an engaged member of this profession is my perhaps misguided idea that kids and classrooms are so different from the ‘good old days’ when I was a student. The world has changed so much since then, and technology has played an integral part in that change. The tools available to kids (and teachers!) today are so different from when I was in the classroom. And when I consider how technology has changed (for good or bad) how we interact with each other and how we perceive and learn about our world, I mostly focused on the negative:

  • ‘virtual’ friends vs. ‘real’ friends and the shallowness of those virtual relationships;
  • our growing impatience because we want what we want when we want it, and being connected to the internet seems to foster this;
  • the spread of informality;
  • our seeming inability to focus on one thing at a time because let’s face it, it’s easy to get distracted with all that information so readily available.

I also did not consider that I was focusing on technology in social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) rather than on technology in the work place. For educators and students, the classroom is the workplace. In other professions, technological advances and tools are, for the most part, considered beneficial and desirable. From my own experience, I never could understand why anyone would use a Word document to create a table once I learned the tools in Excel – the end product created using Excel had so many more advantages. And who would argue that a punch clock is ‘better’ than an online program or application that has the same (and more) functions? Why do so many of us balk then at using technology in the classroom? Is it because we genuinely believe that the methods and tools we used as students are inherently better than the methods and tools that students use today? Or is it because we are uncomfortable with these new technological tools? because we don’t relate to these tools as well as some of our students? because we don’t really know how to use them effectively?

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein. My blog tagline is a quote that is relevant to the issues I’ll be exploring not only during this semester and for this EDTS class, but for the rest of my career as a teacher. It speaks to the idea that we are responsible for changing our way of thinking in order to effect a change in the world, in my classroom. It hints at the idea that change can be difficult, that it is easier to continue with ideas, technologies, and/or methods we find familiar and comfortable. I realize that as a future teacher of children who are (seemingly) so different from when I was a student, it is my responsibility to challenge myself, to adapt to and learn to use tools that take me out of my comfort zone. How can we ask our students to venture out of their comfort zones, to challenge themselves, to work harder in our classrooms than they have ever worked before if we are not willing to do the same personally and professionally?

Students have tools available to them outside (and inside) the classroom that I never imagined as a student. And they use these tools. Technology won’t go away; it won’t disappear. That’s the reality of our society and our classrooms. I can long for the ‘good old days’ and become increasingly irrelevant, or I can adapt and try new things. It’s about taking that first step and trusting that the ground will rise up to meet my feet.

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5 thoughts on “Technology. It won’t disappear.

  1. Istvan, you are so right that change can be difficult and that it is indeed so much easier to stick with what is known, predictable, and comfortable to us. Nostalgia (as you say, the ‘good old days’) can often be a teacher’s worst enemy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ransomtech/6469221865/

    Here, in this blog post, you demonstrate that you are willing and able to be highly reflective, to learn, to take risks, and to seek to remain culturally relevant in a world that is quickly changing. It is the learner that inherits the earth (a little meekness sure helps, of course), and if teachers are not the consummate learners, we are in big trouble.

    Excellent post. I look forward to participate in many more!

  2. I think being here and being in grad school is an awesome step! I am in childhood education as well so let me know if you ever need help. I know from first hand experience many people in my family that have retired because they do not want to deal with technology. I also know family members who are embracing it and want to learn. I agree that change is hard but I think there is a way to learn how to change positively.

  3. I think the reason that we balk at the changing in the classroom is because we have stage fright. For the past year, before I decided to go back to graduate school, I worked as a paralegal in a law office. Most of the work I did was on a computer. However, the technology I used there didn’t scare me half as much as using technology in a classroom does. I think that was because nobody was watching me, and if I made a mistake, nobody saw it. In a classroom, we’re going to have 25 sets of eyes on us while we try to figure out the technology. As the teacher, we’re supposed to be the “smart” ones and already know how everything works. Personally, I’m just afraid of embarrassment. Maybe you feel the same way.

    • That’s a great observation… and the sooner we can get over this type of fear of making mistakes, the sooner we can begin learning 😉 For, making mistakes is almost a requirement for learning. Mistakes with good feedback and reflection make for a powerful learner… and it is the learners who are the movers and shakers.

    • @Bethany: For me, it’s not really embarrassment because I don’t associate lack of dexterity with a technological tool, or even ignorance (simply not knowing something), with embarrassment. I’m not too worried about showing my ‘ignorance’ in front of my students. I think that it shows them that we all have deficiencies and strengths. It’s what we do with these or how we address them that matter. If I l am embarrassed by my lack of familiarity with something, say Twitter (something which might be like second nature to my students), what message does that send the student who has trouble with math, or with reading or spelling on grade level? I want my students to feel comfortable with openly engaging with their deficiencies, to say, “I don’t know!” because then we can search out answers and solutions. It doesn’t hurt that I am excited about new technologies and have a hard time containing my excitement in class. 🙂

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