Saturday, March 05, 2011

It's Okay to Love Technology

by John T. Spencer 

Also posted on Spencer's Scratch Pad

I wrote this after reading a thought-provoking post on the Spicy Learning Blog.  

When I first began blogging, I felt like a lone Luddite in a techno-wilderness.  While writing about the greatest "killer apps" (sadly, not nun-chucks), I wrote about the need for technology criticism.  I'd cringe about a glassy-eyed description of the future class erasing the boundaries of time and space.

I thought I was alone.

I wasn't.

It was pure arrogance on my part and I soon ran into Doyle's Science Teacher blog and saw the value of understanding the physical world.  Using a more poetic, honest and narrative format, he managed to speak what I felt.

So, I wasn't exactly a trailblazer as much as a tech critic on the wrong trail.  However, I've noticed that it's become commonplace now to put pedagogy above technology.  I constantly read retweeted lines about why the real magic is the learning and the students and the thinking.

And yet . . .

To say, "You shouldn't love technology, you should love pedagogy," is akin to saying, "You should love the points you made about Sufjan's newest album" rather than saying, "I really love getting a chance to sip coffee and have a conversation with Quinn."

I expect an author to love his or her ultra-trendy Moleskin or retro typewriter or, God forbid, brand-new Mac Book.  Similarly, I expect a guitarist to appreciate his sing-string companion. I expect any master of any art to love his or her tools.

The point is to get past the novelty phase and love the medium, knowing all of its faults and understanding its limitations.  I want to be grateful for the medium, knowing its power and potential without trying to convince myself that the tool will not change me in both good and bad ways.

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink.  He recently finished two books, Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and Drawn Into Danger, a fictional memoir of a superhero. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer


  1. Reality Hunger, A Manifesto by David Shields explores sometimes directly the implications and widespread changes that technology has brought about. It's a good read and beware, it provokes the weary, the rigid and validates/vindicates many of us.

    Another suggestion in regards to technology is Jaron Lanier's, You Are Not a Gadget. Described as, An impassioned argument about the downside of online collectivism and Web 2.0 culture...

    These two texts should rattle some cages, or worse, provoke some ideas.

  2. I didn't like "You Are Not a Gadget." To me, the best ideas on tech criticism (much more conceptual) come from Ellul, Postman, McLuhan and others. My issue with Lanier is that it never dealt with the mystery, nuance or paradox. It was a provocative polemic when I hoped for some depth.

  3. This conversation would not be happening in the world before now........

  4. Your last 2 paragraphs really resonated with me - I recently have been reflecting on this myself. I know how I feel about it, but putting it into words to make my point has been difficult. I know how much I love technology and could not imagine teaching without it. But still, in my classroom, the technology is not the main focus. Thanks for helping me further clarify some of my thinking on this!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.