I have recently read two articles that have impressed me as far as their attitude concerning the importance of the classroom teacher. Although, as good 21st Century educators, we should be actively moving toward more of the “Guide on the Side” as opposed to the “Sage on the Stage”, we are important Guides! If we were to invest in a tour of the Grand Canyon, and our guide was not knowledgeable, could not answer our questions, and took a “Well, you’ll figure it out” attitude we would want our money back. And more importantly, we would have missed the opportunity to learn about a wonderful national treasure! How true for classroom educators infusing technology as well. In his article, “What We’re Here For“, in the October issue of Teacher Magazine, Doug Noon sums it up like this:
“There’s a myth out there that goes something like this: When it comes to technology, children need no teachers. Show them any high-tech gadget and they seem instinctively to know how it works, even if they’ve never seen it before. This instant familiarity has convinced many educators that, when the topic is computer instruction, we teachers should simply provide the hardware and get out of the way. But if we did that, our students would learn very little.”
He goes on to say:
“If the job of a teacher is to help students orient themselves to the world, then that responsibility has to include the world of computers. Proficiency on a video football game doesn’t make kids Web-savvy any more than it qualifies them for the NFL. Even though students dive right into technology, they still need to be taught how to swim. “
The other article that has stayed at the forefront of my thoughts lately is entitled, “An Open Letter to Elementary School Teachers” by Kenneth J. Willers, an article written for techLEARNING. It is a wonderfully empowering piece in which he states:
Students don’t need a $50,000 computer lab to learn how to create a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation. Students may not even need a computer teacher to teach them these skills. Imagine if we created pencil labs so we could teach all the students how to use a pencil. We laugh at this image, but we have done the same thing with computer labs. Students need to learn to write, so we give them a pencil, we demonstrate how to hold and move the object, but we do it in the context of writing the alphabet, words, sentences, or paragraphs. The pencil is merely a tool used to advance the language arts curriculum and/or learning of the student. The emphasis is never placed on the tool (pencil). When it came to technology, rather than providing access to the tool, schools got caught up in teaching the tool. The structure of technology placed too much emphasis on the tool, as if teaching students “computers” was the goal. Students may have acquired the skills to use a computer, but skills taught outside of instruction defeat the goal of curriculum integration. Besides, we don’t teach computers, we teach language arts, math, science, social studies, religion, etc…”
So, here’s to teaching “literacy” (as David Warlick would say) using technology tools seemlessly in our classrooms!