I first found this idea of our whole culture being somehow subservient to technology a little ridiculous, but the more I've reflected on it, the more true it seems to me. For example...
- I expect my doctor to show me evidence of some medical test to back up his claims. Not that I know any better...but somehow it "feels" better to know that there is a test to confirm his diagnosis.
- I have no idea what is wrong with my car, and perhaps neither does the mechanic until he plugs it in to his computer to see which widget needs to be replaced.
- How much of my free time do I spend in front of some sort of a screen?
- How much of my working time do I spend in front of a screen?
- Do I really care what my high school classmates are broadcasting on Facebook? But how often have I thought--while doing an activity that is actually meaningful and enjoyable and non-technological--"I can't wait to post about this online!"
But true? I do think Postman might be on to something here. In our culture, it seems that the prevailing thinking goes: Technology is omnipresent. Technology can make our lives better. Technology can save us.
Then let's think about school. Have we bought this idea at school: "Technology will make our students learn better. Technology will make us teach better. Technology can save us." Ouch. I'm thinking now that my most recent job in an elementary school was Technology Coordinator speaks to Technopoly. We need to have a full-time person in a school of ~420 students and 30+ staff members to coordinate how we use technology, to teach students how to use technology, to coach teachers in how to effectively allow technology to enhance their teaching practice, and to fix all those lovely technological toys when they misbehave.
And even that--I describe the tools/toys as though they are alive themselves...as if they might really choose to behave badly!
And yet...teaching in the 21st Century in North America...could we not teach with technology? I mean, if push comes to shove, I'd rather my own children have roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty kinds of learning experiences to virtual ones that happen via website or iPad app. At the same time, I think we, as distinctively Christian teachers, need to speak prophetically to our culture, and that means a level of understanding of our culture as well, right?
So I'm torn. I'm advocating for teaching kids the technological literacy skills they need to be successful as 21st Century citizens, but that the same time I'm advocating for being very aware of the hidden messages embedded by adopting any technology.
Perhaps Technopoly is idolatry, fundamentally. That's a scary thought for the Tech Coordinator! Suddenly I have a crazy mental image of a pagan high priest in garish costume, ascending to the altar of the gods of Technopoly, and all the people gathered around, prepared to solicit his blessing, his access to the gods. (Okay, that's a little overly dramatic perhaps...but you get my point?) That's a horrible image, isn't it? Yikes!
And yet, I cater to it, to some degree at least. I quickly fix people's problems without taking the time to explain what I did to them, shrouding my work in mystery. Sometimes I even wave my hand at the machine while I'm working on it. (This reminds me of the story of Naaman the Leper in 2 Kings 5--upset with Elisha for not "waving his hand over the spot" to heal his leprosy. Check out the story here.) Scary stuff--having a higher caste of the technological elite.
Which leads me to my question for you all:
Do you have a designated person on your staff who has the responsibility to coordinate how technology is used at your school? And if so, how much do you rely on that person to be your resident high priest on the altar of Technopoly? Or if you don't have such a designated person, can you speak to why not? Is it a conscious choice made by the school? Or perhaps a matter of pragmatism?