Education and technology in complex world

By John Rajcic

The importance of education in our complex, interdependent and competitive global village can not be overemphasized. Funds to support education will continue to decrease as the needs of the school increase.

It is difficult for many to support a system where the highest paid teacher is a marginal teacher making more than twice the salary of a badly needed sharp-enthusiastic-great-math teacher that is dismissed. This is one of many public concerns that the teaching profession should confront openly and honestly.

Our educational system is obviously labor intensive. Labor intense industries have historically and slowly accepted automation and more effective ways of doing things. It is a question of those in power protecting the status quo. The Brotherhood of Railroad Workers kept the caboose tailing behind for many years after its usefulness disappeared. The railroads saw themselves in the railroad business rather than the transportation business. This economic drag on the railroads did harm to railroads by losing business to other forms of transportation.

To some extent I see the teaching profession as being concerned more with “teaching” than student learning.

In many instances technology continues to rapidly bring about more effective and efficient student “learning” than a teacher with 30 kids in a “box.” There is a fear, and probably rightly so, that the computer is usurping much of the historic role of the teacher and even a book as an information provider. This fear is noted when it is said that a computer only supplements the role of the teacher. I would go much further and say that in some instances it can supplant the role of the teacher.

School administrators are risk adverse and their positions to a large extent are predicated on the support of teacher organizations. This being so, automation of the classroom will be slow in coming. Teacher organizations will also continue to be primarily concerned with teacher welfare, as such organizations are, regardless of the profession. However, as the public becomes dissatisfied and more involved, resource shortages of necessity will bring about changes. This statement is hard for many in the teaching profession to accept, much like the ditch digger with shovel in hand reluctantly losing his job to automation. Having a job remains a number one concern of the individual, as I believe it should be.

Another case in point. This not to challenge the historic role of the librarian, but lately I have not come across students who did not research and complete their term papers “online.” Technology is having a comparable impact upon the classroom teacher. A student has a question or problem that many times can be readily resolved on their own.

Teaching the use of technology in itself is becoming a function of technology. The teaching profession is not unique in this regard. Most human endeavors are experiencing the impact technology is having on the status quo. The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different. All this said, regardless of curriculum and/or school organization, the one constant that makes a difference is a great teacher.

John Rajcic is a Ramona resident.

   
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