How a Laptop is like a Calculator
This is a modified comment from one of the many blogs discussing this at the moment. I’ll throw out a few links so you know I’m not just making this up. Click here, here and here. I’ll get back to blogging about something else tomorrow.
I speak on technology only as a student teacher. There are plenty of places in our credential program that require understanding of technology, to all-but all exclusion. Unfortunately, that’s the problem.
Bear with this analogy: the approach my credential program uses — and, by the sounds of it, most programs — works as well as an elementary school math class that encourages calculators over standard multiplication algorithms. We new teachers become so dependent on technology that we can’t teach without it.
The calculator’s broken, so we can’t do our math homework. There isn’t a projector, so we can’t teach.
Complicating matters, technology is described as changing the face of education, as it were, and our professors and all the talking heads describe how important it is to be knowledgeable in the ways of tech — tech is all over the place.
More correctly, it’s all over the place, but only in the places that can afford it.
What isn’t emphasized is that the schools our new teachers teach at — the poor schools in ghettos and barrios — won’t have these resources. LCD projectors might be in a department or two on a campus of 3400 students. Most of those projectors are teacher-purchased, and new teachers, most of whom are paying off student loans, don’t have that kind of disposable income.
Why do credential programs teach technology during higher education class time that should be spent teaching how to teach? I’d rather take six units of “CI 163: Survival Tips from Professors With Relevant Teaching Experience” and “EHD 178T: Improvise, Overcome, Adapt” than yet another class that requires yet another PowerPoint.
If technology isn’t available, why force student teachers and new teachers to use it as a crutch? That’s the current effect of the programs.
Rather than introducing students to an exciting, new way of understanding the world through technology, technology encourages student teachers to introduce our students to a world of ineffective teaching in poor schools. Technology-dependent teaching doesn’t work in the absence of technology.
The widespread absence of technology is the first problem. Deal with it first, and don’t handicap our new teachers with ill-advised mandates.