Classroom Technology as an Expensive Distraction

Editor’s note: there’s some pathetic sort of disclaimer for the bile from this hate-spewing technophobe. Please read it here.

We need to teach. We need to teach well. It doesn’t matter if we’re using chalkboard, whiteboard or SMART Board if we’re not doing at least that much.

In time, technology will come and will be fully integrated, but for now it remains an expensive distraction.

Check out the discussion of this post.

I believe that while technology in the classroom adds something to a good lecture, but that in the end the technology mandate they discussed there is more like treating the symptom than the cause.

What follows is an excerpt from my response:

Good teachers teach well, whatever that means, and technology can only help. Bad teachers don’t teach well, whatever that means, and technology will only make them worse.

Technology isn’t essential for teaching. Connecting to one’s students is what’s important. Making them care, and teaching them how to find it is important. The tools we use don’t change substantially what they learn.

Emphasizing it so much in credential programs, for example — I can speak for that, at least — wastes class time that should be better spent teaching how to teach, rather than teaching how to teach the material. Consider that this training is distinctly a waste because so few schools our new teachers will teach at actually have more than half of a classroom set of Tech 2.0 gear?

Who cares about LCD projectors if students have just as much trouble remembering how the Balkan Wars and The Great War are related, or have just as much trouble remembering why the powderkeg that was Europe at the turn of the 20th century is important historically, and in our own lives?

Technology adds many desirable things, but these benefits will only be felt once it’s in good hands. That should be our priority.

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  1. The author of the original post wrote that he commented. I didn’t see his comment. In his discussion, I posted the following:

    “Respectfully, I didn’t see the comment on the site.

    “To respond, though, teaching and learning have a distinct cause-and-effect relationship. The success of the former depends on the latter, so improving one improves the other, by the definition of improving. That’s a semantic issue.

    “The marketplace and the workforce have changed, sure. In Silicon Valley, in the Greater Houston area.

    “What I see every day is a school district where the workforce hasn’t changed. Welcome to industry, construction or Barnes and Noble if you don’t have a college education. Here, the tech industry is underdeveloped.

    “Moreover, it isn’t like the highest-paying jobs — programming, R&D, tech manufacture — will be filled by high school graduates.

    “The immediate needs of our students must be filled before the secondary needs. I’m more worried about illiteracy, for one, and technology without pedagogy won’t fix that issue.

    “Technology as a curriculum is misguided, and technology as a tool doesn’t improve bad teaching.”

  2. ” teaching how to teach, rather than teaching how to teach the material. ”

    You can teach mechanics and planning, time management and classroom management but only facing a classroom and working with those students can teach you how to teach.

    ” I believe that while technology in the classroom adds something to a good lecture,…”

    It may but I don’t believe a good lecture is going to teach students any of the things you discuss later. In fact, a good lecture is only about 15 minutes long. The rest of the time is having students wrestle with new ideas, new information and making connections between their understandings and this new knowledge.

    As for remembering why the Balkans War and the Great War are related, what will that help your students who are going to work in construction and Barnes & Noble? What will it matter if they can solve quadratic equations? What will all the “facts” you teach do them if they cannot attach it to their lives and see connections that are real to them. They won’t make connections if you just tell them things.

    The tools aren’t about teaching – they’re about learning and growing. They allow access to information and other people and other ideas and allow students to connect and create and grow their own understandings. The tools are there only to enhance the learning experience – not the teaching experience.

    Teaching isn’t about giving them information. It is about helping them to find information, challenge their own assumptions and add to what they understand. Yes literacy is important. However, literacy isn’t just defined by reading any more. Technology is coming. Only half a room is better than nothing and being creative will only benefit your students.

    Yes teach the students to read but they need to be aware of reading in different contexts – newspaper, comics, magazines, computer screen – because, from what you say, I doubt that any of them will get a textbook in their hands after graduating and yet that is what schools do, teach them to read textbooks.

    “technology as a tool doesn’t improve bad teaching.” Neither will more classes at university or more time reading classroom management techniques or studying teaching strategies or a whole host of other things. You want less time spent on technology in prep classes and more time spent on teaching how to teach. You only learn how to teach while teaching. You can improve but only if you are open to learning yourself.

    I wish you luck as you strive to become a teacher and always remember why you chose to enter this profession.

  3. “You can teach mechanics and planning, time management and classroom management but only facing a classroom and working with those students can teach you how to teach.”

    Respectfully, I disagree to some extent. The best classes I had last semester had this message: the rest of the classes you’re taking have liars for professors. Teaching isn’t scantron grading and summers off, or a wonderful experience where students won’t constantly try to undermine your authority the moment you let them.

    I advocate a class called, “Horror Stories: Here’s the Information that’s Actually Useful.”

    I learned the most when my professors — the ones with actual teaching experience — waxed poetic about how horrible some school conditions are out there, and how little respect students show their teachers.

    “As for remembering why the Balkans War and the Great War are related, what will that help your students who are going to work in construction and Barnes & Noble?”

    Immediately, the high school exit exam and the benchmark tests come to mind. But you bring a good point, with which I agree in this sense — education is about “learning, growing” as much as anything else. Hidden beneath our lectures, notes, activities and others, we teach our students the capacity to learn.

    I used a very poor example, and I started talking with my brain off. I concede as much as I, upon reflection, agree with you.

    Incompetent use of technology by a teacher does not teach our students about their capacity to learn any more than incompetent teaching in general. That’s essentially my point.

    In good hands, technology can vastly help our students. I’m more worried about getting good hands into our schools, first.

    That was a bad way to put it.

    Unfortunately, the credential program I’m in, which I understand is indicative of credential programs nationwide, emphasizes technology use as vastly improving students’ understanding, regardless. Vastly improving their capacity to learn. Vastly improving the quality of teaching.

    No. It doesn’t. Yet that’s the impression my peers get. The number one complaint of master teachers is that my fellow student teachers are so hung up on the PowerPoint lecture.

    Credential programs would be vastly improved if we were locked in the room with a faithless iconoclast, a 40-year veteran of education who isn’t afraid to prepare us for classrooms without modern resources. Someone who isn’t afraid of hard truths about how many LCD projectors we’ll find at our first few schools, or SMART boards.

    Or, worse, the stories about not letting female colleagues walk back to the car alone at night. Or, the stories about students who get physical and aren’t afraid to throw fists. Or, the stories about teachers who forgot to leave the door open when a single student of the opposite gender was in the room.

    I think we all can learn something from that.

    Then, in a separate class, have the rest of our idealist professors wax poetic — I love that phrase — on the benefits of technology, ad nauseum.

    That’s what first-year teachers should be learning, and that’s the perspective I bring to the table.

    —–

    On a separate note: as militant as I sound at times, that’s just the way my writing comes off. I respect everyone here as much as a human being can respect strangers with screennames and 160-by-160-pixel faces.

  4. Give please. To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture.
    I am from Montenegro and also now’m speaking English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: “Find affordable flights and very cheap travel deals.”

    THX ;), Hezekiah.

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