Merely, putting a pencil in a child’s hand does not teach writing. You have to begin with basic skills: how to hold a pencil, how to write within the margins of a lined sheet, how to erase mistakes, etc. Next, a child needs to learn how to interpret and shape the language they will use to record their thoughts. Grammar, syntax, metaphor, structure, etc. During this instruction, a child must learn the power of words; their role as vehicles for ideas; their potential to both liberate and tyrannize. That is writing instruction that will allow students to more clearly understand the world around them and articulate their understandings of that world.
If this is true, then why is it so often that we feel we are doing enough for our students by shoving computers underneath their noses without giving them a clear understanding of what they can, and should, do with the enormous power at their fingertips?
Needless to say, as our society becomes increasingly integrated with technology, students need to have a greater level of understanding about the technology that surrounds them and how it affects them as scholars, and more importantly, as people. Without these types of understandings, we are setting up our children to be mere consumers of technology (and culture), instead of producers.
As technology advances, people are required to use less and less of their brain cells. Calculators make the ability to add redundant. GPS systems make it even irrelevant to know where you are in the world.
Although students have access to more information than any previous generation, their ability to analyze and understand this information is not keeping pace. This raises a number of concerns, but one of the most important is the role it has in the diminishment of our students’ curiosity. Without an analytic filter to parse the useful from the useless, students are drowning under a tsunami of information that taxes their curiosity and makes them apathetic to learning. What’s the point in learning something new when you can just look it up on the internet?
It behooves us to help students understand how they can use technology to manipulate the world around them, but also how that technology can be used to manipulate their understandings of themselves.