Dear Teacher who Said “I hate technology,”
First of all, I want to thank you for your candor and your willingness to openly share your opinion regarding the use of tools for learning. I am a firm believer that we should all have an open forum for expressing our opinions about our profession and the factors that influence it. That is why I am writing here.
Rather than do what most readers of this letter are expecting me to do and refute your claims, I have to admit that I concur–I hate it too. Yes, I must admit, that comes as surprise, I am sure, but something tells me that our reasons for this shared loathing will not be the same. Let me share mine with you and then we can have an informed discussion to compare and contrast.
First, I cannot stand that I have had to give up hours of painstakingly annotating papers with carefully crafted comments and editing marks. I’ll miss that fullness of self when I return the essays and research papers back to the students and they scurrilously thumb to the last page, jettisoning any comment or edit I made, to find out their total score on the paper.
Secondly, the fact that there will be conversations about topics in my class that occur UNABATED and not in my presence is inconceivable and incorrigible. Thoughts about the content of my class that do not occur during the sanctity of my 50 minute class period belong either as one-on-one conversations with me in the hallway, clearly stated on their homework papers, or held onto in the working memory of the student until the next class period or hallway conversation with me.
Lastly, the assignment of group projects should be a rite of passage that includes several if not all of the following situations for students: one student should do most of the work including but not limited to: writing, researching, organizing, and assigning ancillary roles to other team members, one student should lose the flash drive that has the slide presentation at least once during the assignment duration, one student, most likely the one who pulls down 30+ hours at the local burger joint, should not be able to meet with the rest of the group at any time outside of school, provided the other group members athletics and extracurricular activities schedules do not preclude any outside of the classroom meetings. Additionally, I should not be able to see the extent to which each of these students worked on the project until the very end of the process.
As you can see, my role as a teacher is being compromised by the intrusion of tools that render aspects of my daily goings-on as obsolete. This I won’t stand for. Plus, adding to my ire is the fact that there is all of this talk about new definitions of literacy. Reading is no longer just the deconstruction and reconstruction of text, but now I am being asked to help students make sense of rich media, data sets that are visualized, and more streams of immediate news and information on a daily basis. If you ask me, there is just a whole lot of noise. What do you say we just don’t listen to it?
We had teachers growing up who were able to teach us the finer points of composing, of calculation, of geography, and the greater literary works of both North America and Europe, yet their technology was limited to chalk, and blessed be, an overhead projector. Can’t we do as much or more with the same?
So I am with you, I think, in resisting this move, and I’ll do just what’s mandated of me by my building principal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go close my classroom door…
Cartoon: Mike Worley