By: Mitchell Salerno, High School Principal and Arlene Outerbridge, Director of Guidance (The Master's Academy)
A recent editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer (Click here to view article) raised questions about “one-to-one computing” initiatives sprouting up in schools around the country. Zimmerman (2010) argues that this technology has the potential to drive students further away from human interaction and that there is little evidence that one-to-one initiatives actually increase student learning. Zimmerman further suggests that qualified and talented teachers, rather than the latest technology, will improve learning. Humorously, Zimmerman quotes Thomas Edison (in 1922), “I believe the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.”
If you listen carefully, you will hear similar language among today’s educational reformers. Simply replace “motion picture” with “Kindle” or “iTouch” or “laptop.” Are these tools going to revolutionize education and replace textbooks?
I am a technology fan and have pushed technological initiatives at every opportunity. Our students need to understand how to live in a 21st century world and our schools are largely responsible for providing opportunities for students to interact with the abundance of technological tools available to them. However, our schools must continue to ask the hard questions such as:
· How do we see technology as a positive for our students?
· How do we see technology as a hindrance to our students?
· If we add (insert technology), how do we ensure that the positive benefits to our students outweigh the negative?
Zimmerman (2010) also raises a secondary question regarding the parent’s ability to aid the students as they navigate the new world of technology. Our students are growing up in a fundamentally different world than we grew up in. As an example, I was at the barbershop today and my barber and I were discussing the latest video games. We had seen an ad on the television and couldn’t tell if it was for a movie or a video game. It is amazing to think that technology has advanced to this point. So as all old-timers do (I am 34!), we began to tell stories of how things used to be.
As I reflect on that conversation, I am amazed at the fundamental difference between our world in the 1980s and the world today. Yet, I am also amazed at how the human condition has not changed. Christian schools, and education in general, really has not changed. We are still asking the same questions about what students need to learn, how they should learn, etc. While our ability to do stuff has increased exponentially, our “condition” has not changed at all.
It is possible that our students’ parents do not know how to deal with the rapidly changing technological landscape. Our efforts to train the children are often the easiest task we have. Zimmerman (2010) shares, possibly inadvertently, his struggles as a parent in this new technological world. Our parents might be struggling as well. Our schools need to be mindful of the “old-timer’s” struggle with encroaching technology and begin to ask questions such as:
· If we add (insert technology), how do we combat parent fears?
· How do we help parents understand the purpose and benefit of this technology?
· Have we considered the impact this technology will have on the home?
In the end, technology is merely a tool. It certainly may be leveraged for the Kingdom, but we must begin to teach our students how to properly value and utilize technology, beginning with our own actions. As we devise new ways to implement technology, let’s make sure that we are taking care to keep Christ first and refuse to allow education to be about tools rather than children.
Zimmerman, J. (2010, March 2). Should schools be giving out computers?. The
Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from