Technology, typically, to me means to be “plugged in, turned on or fully charged”. This however is not always the case as we look around the world of education. Take the pencil for example. It is a powerful yet simple tool that can be used to solve equations, write letters, stories, and draw to your hearts content. Take crayons, where you can add colour, texture detail and make that art come to life with colour.
In my education, the pencil was a major part of my technology, as well as the blackboard, overhead projector, sometimes we were treated to the the odd filmstrip. I actually enjoyed taking notes. I found it therapeutic to copy notes from the chaldboard. It was quiet and focused. In university, I had a great old typewriter. I even got to take typing class in high school. I loved it and found the repetition and clunky noise soothing. I didn’t actually have a computer until after I was finished my degree.
From computers, we moved on to flip phones and now to an iphone which can do so many things. However, with the readings this week there was one that stuck out. It was Neil Postman’s statement in his article, Five things we need to know about technological change … “we always pay a price for technology. The greater the technology, the greater the price.” This seemed profound to me. If we take a look at cars (or modern transportation in general) what have they done? Reaked a lot of havoc on the climate, helped to create an obese society,… but have made it very simple to get to point A to point B in a short amount of time, allowed the world to grow smaller, and have given us easier access to goods from far away. It seems like there is no fair trade.
If we look at technological advancements in medicine, there are amazing things being done in the world that allow people to live much better lives than they ever would have years past. But in the same regard it is almost like we want to live forever instead of enjoying what we have while we have it. It seems like people want quantity of life vs. quality. One profound statement that changed my outlook on life was made from an Indonesian man, when I found out he lost his two sisters because they were both born premature. I was saddened when he told me that they died because the hospital was too far away. But he consoled me and said, “we all have a moment we are born, a moment we are married, a moment we die. But in between, we need to smile, laugh and converse with our brothers of Lombok (which just means to shoot the shit)”. So in the end, shouldn’t we all learn to accept death as a part of life and enjoy the time we do have?
Technology brought about Social Media. Which has made an enormous impact in the world, probably the largest. Social media sites such as Google, facebook, instagram, are all some of the richest companies in the world and have many benefits. But in watching the netflix documentary, the social dilemma social media is creating so many more problems – spreading manipulative narratives, mental health problems, fake news, and a huge increase in suicides and hospitalizations, especially in preteen girls. This show actually prompted me to delete my social media because it scared me so much. Escpecially after hearing younger colleaugues telling me that when they were in high school, they would take down a post if they did not receive more than 100 likes. That made me feel sick.
In this regards I worry about what the state of the world will be in in the next decade and beyond and is the largest example of “paying the price for technology”.
In the mean time, I also look at how we have to pull back and teach kids ways to “unplug”- with things like, zentangles, art therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and happiness. So in a way, the pencil is still a powerful tool- a tool of therapy where you can write or draw which is therapeutic. So I hope our world finds a healthy balance between “plugged in, turned on, charged up” technology and good ol’ paper technology.