Sunday, October 7, 2012

Psst! What's The Latest On TMZ?

In the latter part of my teaching career, I had the feeling that those in charge of education, especially on the local level, were suffering from a kind of drift that was largely absent when I started my career. More and more, administrators were embracing technology, and the next 'big thing' that it promised on a regular basis, as the solution to student underachievement.

The process started off mildly enough, with the introduction of video (reel-to-reel was actually the first format used in the classroom) as a supplement to instruction, but by the time I had retired, whiteboards, school wi-fi networks, etc. were starting to gain currency. As my last administrator said, we have to hold their interest with new technology, a statement I took as sad evidence of pedogogical bankruptcy.

All the while, I was dubious of each new marvel; any reservations I openly expressed were readily dismissed, the assumption being that I was some kind of Luddite naturally resistant to change. And of course, for those who harboured notions of advancement, objecting to any new 'paradigm' would have been tantamount to career suicide, the institution of education quite Machiavellian in imposing its own brand of control on critical thinking.

It was therefore with some satisfaction that I read a piece in today's Star entitled Let’s unplug the digital classroom. Written by Doug Mann, professor in the sociology department and in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, it argues that the ubiquity of digital technology in educational settings is not an unalloyed good, and suggests what some would regard as drastic measures in an effort to curb the distractions students fall prey to whilst in the thrall of that technology.

Cross-posted at Politics and Its Discontents.

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