Monday, October 24, 2011

Marching Backward into the Future

“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”
- The Media is the Massage. An Inventory of Effects. McLuhan & Fiore. p74

Everything we look at is shaped by our experiences. We come from a 20th century perspective and it is incredibly difficult to imagine what the 21st century will bring. When I started teaching 20 years ago, could I have envisioned an iPod, a netbook, a Kindle? We had the beginnings of an Internet, but nothing like the global interactions of today. And yet it was my job to prepare those 6th graders for their future.

Those 6th graders are now about 32 years old. Do we feel the 32 year olds of today are not productive? Are they not capable of doing the jobs we need them to do? If I taught them to think and to write and to question and to explore, did I not prepare them for their future?

And what of my students of today? How are they prepared to meet their destiny? We live in this moment and our vision is shaped by what came before us. We can imagine what will be next, but all of of our imaginings are seen through the lens of our own histories. And each of us brings a different history to our predictions.

In the field of education there is much anxiety about the future. These anxieties are only compounded by the downturn in our economy. Is this because we didn’t prepare our students for what was to come? How can we make sure that our country will be led by a knowledgeable and capable workforce? Is technology the answer?

How do the innovators of today come up with these inventions? Where do they get the ideas that transform our world? Someone invented the iPod, the Kindle, the iPad. Where did they go to school? Who were their teachers? Did they march backward into the future or were they somehow turned around?


mweisburgh said...

In many cases, the people who invented those devices were dropouts. It's ironic.

But, the people who work for them were schooled. So maybe schools can prepare the 99.99%, but nothing prepares the .01%, the revolutionary creatives.

Mallory Moon said...

Ms. Davis,
I have really enjoyed reading your blog post. I enjoy reading articles about technology. Technology is our future. I like how you talked about how when you first started teaching you could not imagine iPads or Kindles. Until I got to South I had never had a smart board in the classroom and it wasn't until emd310 that I actually used one. There has been so many new types of technology come out just in the past decade. I liked how you said "everything we look at is shaped by our experiences." I have never thought about it that way.

Anonymous said...

We are definitely "shaped by our experiences" but as educators we can not let our past interfere with the innovations of today. I remember learning to type on an old manual typewriter - and although I do not want to go back to that, I would not be able to word process at the speed that I do without that good old fashioned know how. I keep hearing the students we are educating today will have jobs that have not even been invented yet. So how do we prepare them? By teaching them to be problem solvers and healthy risk takers!

Greta Miller said...

Ms. Davis,
I have enjoyed reading your blog. I believe technology is our future and technology is going to be more and more involved in the school. I think it is cool that schools are using kindles and Ipads to teach children. and Kidogo said...


We enjoy reading your blog. thanks for your insightful sharing.

Yes you are right, there are lots of anxiety regarding future education, particularly with the rise of technology. The fundamental question is always about whether technology can facilitate students' learning.

We think it is important to incorporate technology to school curriculum because we have already entered the era of education 2.0. To strengthen the growth of the new digital economy, the only way to do so is to educate generation Y the correct usage of technology!

karen M. said...

When I think about what made those people who went on to invent things like iPads or kindle, like you, Liz, it makes me wonder what there education was like. What inspired them? Was there innovation kindled in the school system or elsewhere? I think the comment made by mweisburgh is right, many of them were school dropouts. So does this mean that we do not have enough of a technology curriculum that satisfies the growing interest of our students? Further, if we did have a more comprehensive technology curriculum in our schools would we produce more creative thinkers and inventors?

JCaliente said...

Helpful or Harmful Technology in Education?

By: Jackie C.

There is no doubt that technology has changed the world around us, including the educational world. It is not only present in most schools, but it is expected. Teachers in my current district once required teachers to type out their lesson plans on a word document and to submit them to administration through email. Now, the administrative team “highly encourages” all teachers to display their daily lesson plans on Real Time, which is a technology software tool used for multiple purposes, such as recording grades and assignments, taking attendance, having access to student information, etc. Senior teachers found these transitions difficult and time consuming. Many teachers, as they begin to think about integrating technology into their classrooms, are often intimidated by the technology itself. How could they think pencil-paper tests and practice drills would be the only way to teach and learn? As a younger teacher, I was exposed to and understand technology more. For a couple of teachers I had a chance to speak with, “things were fine the way they were”. My question to all of you is, “Was it fine the way it was? Or are things better?”

To start with a few thoughts, technology has always played a part in my classroom instruction from the beginning (6 years ago). Whether it was an overhead, transparency projector or an LCD projector displaying concept reviews, sample test questions, videos, or graphic organizers, I noticed the students’ responses were more engaging and willing. Days when I would not include technology in the classroom, the participation levels decreased and the level of impatience increased amongst the students. The usage of technology in the classroom enhances student learning by differentiating instruction.

“It is obvious that with any new technology, you will need to become comfortable with its uses and possibilities before introducing it to your students as a learning tool.” (Daley, 2011). I can recall the time when SMART Boards were becoming more popular in classrooms. (Remember: I had only started teaching 6 years ago). I had to take the beginners seminar twice before I understood how to even set up an activity for the students. I happily incorporated what I had learned into my “toolbox” for future lessons. Since then, there are now Level II and III Seminars for the SMART Board. It is evident, once again, that teachers must keep up with the ever-changing world around them and stay educated on the modern reforms in education.

Overall, technology provides an opportunity for a diverse student and teacher population to express their ideas, communicate in a modern technological way, and improve abstract thinking with the various software and Internet resources provided through the use of technology.


On a different note, technology has also shed some negative effects on our students, today. The use of cell phones and mp3 players have caused much distraction amongst the students in my district. I am not only referring to using these pieces of technology in school, but using them as ways to bully or exposed themselves in risqué ways causing harm to themselves and others. Also, plagiarism has been a growing issue in school. Instead of providing ways for students to be creative with their ideas to be original, they are taking the ideas of others, through the Internet, and claiming as their own. These students are being resourceful, yes; however learning the correct way to paraphrase and cite references should also be taught. Perhaps technology can help with that particular lesson as well!

With this being “said”, what are your experiences and views on technology? Is it more helpful or harmful?


Daley, B. (May 5, 2011). “On technology in education”. Future
of Schools Reform Group. Education Week. Editorial
Projects in Education. Bethesda, MD.