Technology as Karate?

by Jean Tower


A t a recent public meeting, during a discussion about the technology needs of the school district, there was a thought-provoking comment about teaching without technology. The speaker talked about a very gifted professor at his college whose classes are always fully subscribed and typically have waiting lists. The professor is very highly regarded as an exemplary teacher by both his students and by peers. And, the speaker noted, this professor uses no technology in his lectures.

I think that part of the intended message was that truly excellent teachers do not need the "crutch" of technology in the classroom, and that, perhaps, we should take this into account when we are advocating for educational technology.

I do not think that technology in the classroom compensates for mediocre teaching. I do believe that there are good teachers who do not use technology. But I also think that really good teachers who also master technology and use it well for teaching and learning are better teachers because of it.

His comment reminded me of something my father once said. My siblings and I were entranced by Bruce Lee (or was it Chuck Norris?) and we were convinced that the martial arts represented the utmost in fighting skills. In every movie or TV show, the big, strong villain was beaten by the smaller but more skilled martial arts expert. That’s when Mal (my father) said we were nuts. He said, sure, some judo experts might beat some big, strong street fighters. But, he said, some big, strong street fighters also know judo – then the little guy hasn’t got a chance. I have no idea about fighting, but I see the bigger principle he was going for. Quality A might be argued to be better than Quality B, but someone with both A and B is more likely to win over a contender with either A or B. At least, that was my take-away.

The metaphor works for me when thinking about teaching with technology. An excellent teacher (that’s Quality A) who also uses technology really well (that’s Quality B) is superior to a teacher that has only A or B, right? So, if you accept the premise, how do we convince members of our parent community? Parents aren’t in the classroom as students to experience the difference first-hand, and they aren’t teachers, seeing the impact of students using technology to further their learning ~ what then is the best way to help parents understand the value of technology in education today?

I came across a really insightful post that contributes to this topic.

It is at:

http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2008/10/2/the-continuums-ends.html

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

E.J. Wilson December 15, 2008 at 7:07 am

Well said!

Please check out my new blog as I would appreciate any feedback I could get!

Thanks…

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