Thursday, October 06, 2005

Child/Technology Paradox

Reading my various feeds this morning due to a very early start, I came across this article by Lowell Monke, Charlotte's Webpage: Why children shouldn't have the world at their fingertips. Monke's bio states "Lowell Monke, who has taught young people with and about computers for seventeen years, currently gets paid by Wittenberg University to confuse aspiring teachers as to what education is all about." - this is enough to tell me that this guy is decently grounded to what I think the world is like, so when he concludes at the end of a great article that: At the heart of a child's relationship with technology is a paradox—that the more external power children have at their disposal, the more difficult it will be for them to develop the inner capacities to use that power wisely. Once educators, parents, and policymakers understand this phenomenon, perhaps education will begin to emphasize the development of human beings living in community, and not just technical virtuosity. I am convinced that this will necessarily involve unplugging the learning environment long enough to encourage children to discover who they are and what kind of world they must live in. That, in turn, will allow them to participate more wisely in using external tools to shape, and at times leave unshaped, the world in which we all must live. I think he hit one of those unstated mantras of technology integration - if you don't have to integrate - Don't!. There is more to learning than just the tools. It is very odd for a techno-geek like me to be saying that, but it is the truth. How it hit me was when I read it and thought about all the times that I am walking around outside and much to the chagrin of my wife, I'm looking at the world around me as potential photo ops. How does this fit what Monke is saying? Back when I was a younger geek, I used to play with Photoshop all the time, and thought that I was a decent hack, being able to stitch together scenes that were impressive. The entire time I was doing this, it was in a typical university computer lab, while outside, there was an amazing riperian ecosystem that would give me scenes that would blow my mind in later years outside. It wasn't until I started taking a serious interest in photography that both my appreciation of ID/IT and the world around me really started to grow. Photography pulled me out of the lab and into the strangest places (not really strange, but if you see someone by a stream on a cold day with a camera shooting god knows what, that is likely someone like me - though if I have the kit and the chance, I'd love to get really into a shoot and do the camp out/quest/find self thing) and reminded me about what is still really important. All the skills in the virtual world only make one virtually worldly, but skills in the real world are needed to be truly worldly. Just think about Neo when he was first pulled out of the Matrix - he needed to get his worldly body healthy before this virtual one was strong enough for anything. To truly grow, a child needs to grow from within, using the world they live in and then applying the tools that they have access to. In this manner, they get to know who they are, where they are and what can be done to make the entire mix just that much better. I may have missed the point of the article just slightly, but then again, I may have nailed it. Edit - Bionic Teacher has an interesting writeup. Technorati Tags: ,