When teaching technology – PLEASE teach technology!

This current term for the kid in school now includes a “special” titled Technology (last term the special was Music).  I asked if he meant ‘computers’ and he said quite emphatically, “No.” Okay then … it’s Technology.

The class just started before the Christmas break … And what has the class been doing?

Creating newsletters with Microsoft Publisher.

Thinking that this might be a prelude to something more, I asked what the teacher’s plans were for the class.

The gist is that this class will use pretty much only the applications found on the computers – limited to Powerpoint, Word and Publisher. So, the plans are to learn how to create presentations, write reports, and create newsletters.

What about using the web? – Nope

Learning about the issues of privacy with tech and the Internet? – Nope

Social networking? – Nope

This is not a class about technology! WTF?!??!?

Assuming that the other kids are very much like my own … these kids are online constantly (via My Space, or playing any number of online games like Runescape or World of Warcraft or Dungeon Runners).

They do not need to learn how to use a computer – that’s already a given! And they certainly do not need to learn how to use an application to create a digital version of an analog technology … use Publisher to create a newsletter which is then printed … are you kidding me?!?

My tax dollars hard at work …

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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7 Responses to When teaching technology – PLEASE teach technology!

  1. PDonaghy says:

    Hi Rory
    I agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately, the situation you describe seems to be very much the norm – across the globe! Things are very very slow to change in formal education and I fear that many in the educational sector will be the last to embrace Web 2.0 if at all!!
    PDonaghy

  2. Rory says:

    Hi Patricia – thanks for your comments. It’s good to know to some degree that I’m not the only one who’s frustrated by this.

    We are not serving our children when ignoring the real need of technology literacy/usage/etc. in light of the world they’ll soon find themselves working and living in. One consolation is that the young folks tend to be faster to adapt to newer challenges … which they must do.
    It’s a matter of systemic stupidity, really.

  3. mikeberta says:

    Rory,

    Right on, here is the reason. Teachers are uninformed, uneducated, and uninitiated in using technology to enhance the learning of the students.

    In working I find K-12 educators that are petrified of finding new solutions or projects for children. Faining that none exist and creation would take too long.

    I’m not a K-12 teacher and I know where to look

    Sadly, it is up to us as parents to help our children use the technology to enhance learning (which isn’t bad) all the while paying teachers to stifle learning and retard growth (which is bad).

    Mike

  4. Rory says:

    Hi Mike – thanks for commenting. I really appreciate folks offering their thoughts.

    I’m cautious in making a blanket statement that teachers are universally uninformed, uneducated and unmotivated. Much of the blame (if I may use that word) lies with an unenlightened administration who are more often concerned with issues of tenure and maintaining a certain status quo. They also are terribly concerned about the school’s achieving the necessary marks in the mandated state exams as part of the No Child Left Behind nonsense.

    With limited resources as they are and such pressure for schools to perform to some unfunded mandate standards, tough decisions do need to be made. But I content that they are indeed the wrong decisions.

    The children are, then, those that suffer.

    I guess, too, that my big beef in all of this clamor is that there was a certain pretense that this class was learning about tech. It just wasn’t. So, don’t call it that.

  5. annie says:

    Yes, tax dollars. Not enough. Pay us teachers more and we’ll work harder. It’s not worth our time to spend hours (after a long teaching day already) coming up with the most interesting lessons for the kids every single day.

    Give us more technology and teach us how to use it (and pay us for those hours we spend taking our time to learn this stuff) and then we will teach with the new tools.

    I think it sucks when parents and other non-teachers rip on the teachers like this if the person hasn’t ever taught (or hasn’t taught longer than at least 1 year full-time).

    YOU go teach those kids. Obviously they need someone like you (and more software in their lab) — also someone who is willing to work harder for no money to come up with their own inventive curriculum.

  6. annie says:

    About the administration…they have it even harder than teachers do! They are worried about saving their a$$es from EVERY direction you can imagine – other teachers, district, state, the law, parents, etc.

    OF COURSE they’re ‘terribly concerned’ about achieving the marks. How is that wrong? The reason they focus on achievement and standards is because it’s their job. Schools are required by law to teach what the State Department of Education tells them to. If schools don’t pass the mark set by the state after students have taken the standardized tests, the school loses money and is put on a sort of ‘watch’ where state officials come around taking notes on all the teachers and doing audits. Not fun. Oh, they also make teachers work harder by implementing new programs and making us gain additional professional development (without getting paid for it).

  7. Rory says:

    Annie – I appreciate your taking time to comment, although you could turn down the volume on your complaint.

    I do teach children, and unlike you I find it necessary and part of the job “coming up with the most interesting lessons for the kids every single day.”

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