Clifford Stoll – what a truly fascinating man! Have you heard of him? I stumbled across a TED talk by Clifford Stoll this afternoon. He was inspirational. Every cell in his body oozed enthusiasm for sharing with his audience. I was drawn to what he had to say.
In his TED talk he mentioned briefly that he was against the push for more technology in the classroom. Well that got a reaction from me. I was all ears. You see, I’m of the same thinking and I’ll admit that I often feel like the lone voice in the wilderness on this one.
Ironically, I googled around to learn more about what Clifford Stoll had to say on the topic. I found this 1996 talk that he gave about technology. While very dated, and somewhat proven incorrect, I believe the heart of what Clifford wanted to share with us was still true – yes, technology is a useful tool but it has its price. Before we embrace it wholehearted without question, particularly where our children are concerned, we need to consider the price, the sacrifice, the loss. And there is one.
Since an hour or so of watching Clifford Stoll bounce around and deliver his talk, is not nearly enough, I hunted further and found one last video. This one is a little more current (2004) and seems to suggest a personal swing away from technology all together. I’d be curious to know if he’s found a workable medium with technology in 2013 or whether he still advocates a total avoidance, particularly for children.
Since I’m a book person at heart I was delighted to find that Clifford Stoll has written a book on this topic, called “High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian“. Of course, it’s been ordered and is making its way to a plane as I type.
I certainly don’t hate technology. I embrace many elements of it. My criticism is towards the push to include more technology in schools as the answer to the failing education system. Ipads and interactive online lessons as the solution to unmotivated students. Laptops and educational apps as the key to teacher job satisfaction. Really?! Clifford Stoll believes these things are just one more thing that stand between the teacher and the student; distancing the student from a mentor who could inspire them to greatness..well assuming you had a great teacher. Perhaps the money would be better spent encouraging enlivening people like Clifford Stoll into the classrooms.
How is this relevant to the homeschool? Oh it’s very applicable, in some cases we’ve pushed the limits further than schools have. In the near future I doubt technology will replace the teacher entirely in schools; however there are busy homeschooling parents who actively seek to replace their educational responsibilities with a computer screen. It’s commonplace to hear online classes and subscriptions listed as first choice curriculums. Sadder still to note that some families rely on these entirely.
No, technology in education isn’t bad. It’s how we use it that can be unwise and even dangerous. At the end of the day it is only a tool and a far inferior tool than a close relationship between teacher and student. If education is not the filling of a pail why do we endorse and use products that merely drip information into our children’s brains for them to acquire, ‘enjoy’ and interact with. If education truly is the lighting of a fire, we need to be right beside our children igniting their flames of curiosity and creativity.
And if you don’t know how, just watch Clifford Stoll – a man with overflowing passion and more enough inspiration to share around. An amazing man!