Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Invention

"Class, I'd like to introduce you to something magical.  It is an invention that allows anyone, almost anywhere in the world, to have access to nearly everything that any human has ever known.  It can almost instantly give you answers to nearly any question.  It can connect you to people who know the answers so that they can explain them to you."

"It can show you almost every work of art ever created.  You can use it to learn about music, and listen to the greatest masterpieces ever created by mankind.  You can look into outer space.  You can watch animals being born.  You can see what is going on nearly anywhere in the world.  You can see how a cell divides, or how plants turn energy from the sun into food."

"It can be used to find the location of almost any place in the world, down to a few feet in accuracy.  You can use it to meet new people, explore new ideas, or share your own ideas with the world.  You can use it to do nearly anything, because there are countless people out there using it to show you how."

"It has been used to revolutionize oppressed nations, to organize opposition and overthrow tyrannical governments.  It has been used to bring things to places that would never have them otherwise.  It can be used to change the world, if used correctly.  It can be used to work with others, to get feedback on our own work, to stretch our thinking, and to share what we create."

"But, when you come to my room, we are going to pretend it doesn't exist.  Instead, we are going to continue acting as if I'm the only person in the world who has the knowledge you need to succeed in this class.  If I see you trying to use this amazing invention, I will take away the device you are using to access it, and you will be punished."

We may as well hang this statement on our classroom walls.  In our district, nearly a third of all classrooms ignore the fact that the Internet exists.  They use computers once or less during the entire school year.  This data comes from a survey that teachers in our district took.  That, in itself, was a difficult process-there were many teachers who flat out fought about even having to log in to a website to take it.  

What makes us think that we don't need this tool, this invention that has literally changed the world we are supposedly preparing our students for?  How can we be so arrogant to assume that what was good enough for us is even remotely close to what is best for students today?  Have we not noticed that the Industrial Revolution is gone and not coming back?  Have we not been paying attention to the exponential advancement in technology?  Is it even possible for a teacher who cares about the success of their students to think that they are preparing them well for the future that they largely ignore is a reality?  

Come on, people.  It's time to get past your own hangups about using technology.  It's time to do the real work of preparing students for the world-the real world-in which they live, not the one that only still exists in your past.  


  1. Wow, Andy! This is really powerful! Made me rethink some things I am doing THIS WEEK! Thanks.

  2. Great article! Very well written. We have to work harder to integrate technology in meaningful ways in our classrooms!

  3. Get out those phones in the classroom and utilize them!