Change Doesn’t Mean Progress

As Tim Stahmer so aptly says, change doesn't mean progress.

As Robert Madden says,

“Given that just one of those is reason enough to embrace technology in the classroom, why are some people using standardized test scores to seemingly justify its integration?  By using test scores as a justification we are giving them an importance that I don’t think many of us believe or would want others to. “

The Hand
The human hand. A beautiful thing. 123 bones. 29 major and minor bones. 29 major joints. 48 names nerves. 30 named arteries.

One out of six disabling work injuries involves the fingers.

It is important. It helps us manipulate our world.

The hand has helped the sick from the gutter and fed the poor. The hand has caressed lovers and been raised in the salute. It has built homes and driven cars. It has even made cars. Lots of good has come from the hand.

The hand has killed, maimed, and tortured other human beings. It has pushed buttons that have deployed nuclear weapons and biological terrors. It has harmed the tiniest, most fragile human beings and slapped people into submissions. Lots of bad has come from the hand.

Yet never in humankind have we debated whether the hand should exist. We do not blame the hand (except in some brutal societies) when someone does something terrible. Nor, do we give the hand credit when greatness is achieved.  All credit and condemnation goes to the person behind the hand.

That is because the hand is just a tool.

The Technology
Technology is an amazing creation. It can do so many things and is so versatile. We cannot count the types of ways it can connect us. . The ways we can use it to create seem endless. So many things.

Technology can be used in so many good ways. To free minds like that of Stephen Hawking. To reach kids who are unreachable otherwise. To save human life. To help people find their perfect match. So much good has come from technology.

Technology can be used in so many bad ways. To waste time. To have people focus on it instead of more important tasks like driving or listening to your child. To usurp time that could be used for other things. To detonate a bomb. So much bad has come from technology.

And yet, we are still so starry eyed at this new creation that we do not see that technology is a lot like the hand.

iPads are improving test scores! Well, give me a bunch of iPads and I can let them play games all day and I'll show you a school with test scores that will plummet.

A complex tool that can be used for either good or bad.

Why on earth in humankind are we debating whether technology should exist? We blame technology  when someone does something terrible. Nor, do we often give technology the credit when greatness is achieved. 

In reality, all credit and condemnation goes to the person behind the technology.

That is because technology is just a tool.

If the hands are used to manipulate the technology and we do not give hands the credit, then we should not give technology the credit either.

It is time to start focusing on the best and worst uses of technology and to get past this starry eyed wonder that has knocked all common sense out of mankind.

Just because it uses technology doesn't mean it is progress. Just because it uses technology doesn't mean it improves learning.

Let's give technology a hand up by getting to the real reason we are here. To improve education.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Samuel May 18, 2011 - 7:48 am

Totally agree. Technology use in education should also make use of the features that the technology provides. All too often, use of ‘technology’ in education just involves porting what was printed on paper to a computer screen. How engaging can that be for students?

Ashleigh S May 18, 2011 - 10:52 pm

Thank you for the wonderful post!  I’m going to

coolcatteacher June 7, 2011 - 1:48 pm

You are right! Just making it look nice may not add anything to the process of learning, although it could.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere