With Technology and Enlightenment for All

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:03 am
PostPost subject: With Technology and Enlightenment for All
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This video provides a very seductive spin on technology.

Like Beau Lotto’s project in the UK, it shows what you can do when you let kids take the reins in the learning process.

However, if I were to contact these folks, they would likely ignore my knock on the door. So much for receptivity and collaboration. What religion is open to new ideas?

The world may be flooded with technology hardware, but many, many schools all over the world do not have the training and resources that these projects appear to have. These are self-made trophy projects of large institutions who have a strong belief system and deep pockets focused on technology.

Kids and technology are like moths to the light. They are attracted to it, and they can use it to navigate, but if they had to solve problems for themselves---like switch over to manual navigation when the GPS breaks down---they would be lost.

The Wisconsin project, the least adorned, seemed to have feet on the ground and hands in the soil.

The point is: Technology is still being dangled like bait.

Play is confused with keyboard and the monitor through which we peer and define the world. Kids are being shaped by the computer which in turn defines reality. Nor is programming a computer thinking or building.

Technology is a tool; not the road to survival. Kids will remain stuck in comfort zone building game environments, using not their imaginations but their propensity for repetition for self-indulgence. Is this species of Play socially sustainable and nurturing? Does it promote warmth, tolerance, compassion in the culture? Or is it Play that re-defines the culture to fit its demands?

Of course kids love technology, and businesses thrive on the selling of technology, but what, in the end, will technology make of the learning culture?

Technology may command attention and we can all sit entranced in its glow, but what of the teaching of a subject like history? History, increasingly, is the history channel and more video production on the handhelds. With technology, as with the Night in the Museum, History is still DOA. And as for science and the critical search for solutions? I rest my case.

Don't get me wrong. I love technology, but it is no magic bullet. Only Play can be viewed as a potential unifying solution. It is the single behavior we can truly call a gift. Play, uncorrupted, fuels curiosity and promotes a civilizing quality of mind. As a solution for promoting socialization and collaboration among young and old alike, and in the search for a re-invented learning culture, Play is a solution hiding in plain sight. The following letter in the New York Times says it all.

To the Editor:
As a father of six and a psychoanalyst, I share Joel Bakan’s concern about protecting our children from being “targets” of corporate interests. When it comes to healthy minds, diets, educations and souls, children are historically last on societies’ list of priorities. Add that to the impossible profession of parenting these days, and things look bleak.
Having returned from a driving and camping vacation with my younger children, a 10-year-old and 6-year-old twins, I was reminded of one powerful antidote to the poisons of our modern world. We did a lot of talking — in the car, around a campfire, hiking and staring at stars in the magnificent Michigan sky.

As an analyst, I should know that talking protects and connects us in meaningful ways. But even I forget that this might be the most powerful tool to help our children grow in healthy ways.

Chicago, Aug. 22, 2011

But more than anything, what comes through in the DM Video is a fixation, a sense that reality cannot be navigated without technology. That the GPS trumps a young person’s sense of direction and physical grasp of reality. Also, the almost anxious, insistent dependence on technology that leaves little or no room for, say, personality to root into one’s handwriting, reading to root into reflection, space in a habitat that allows for the day-dream or wonderment. If nothing else, the Waldorf model respects the child’s need to graze and ruminate. Faraday’s moment by the Waterfall and young Albert’s ride still trump the button-driven processing shown in the Digital Media documentary.

Talking and Communicating trumps the Digital Media drive to lock down the mind by a fixed and myopic gaze into the monitor. Where is the room for the hand, wood, the seeds of engineering and modeling? How does that grow? A green revolution will need people who know how to convert and re-tool? Students perched on the platform of complexity are top-heavy and at risk.

Play canot be conflated with the programmed and pre-scribed nature of the game— Gaming cannot shape the culture or heal it. We must dig down to the bed rock and ask, Digital Literacy for what, towads what end?
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