“Kids don’t have enough balance.”
“We are dumber because of technology.”
“People are disconnected from one another because of how we use technology.”
“Technology kills our face-to-face interactions.”
In my travels, I have heard all of these arguments. I actually remember dealing with one principal vehemently opposed to the use of technology by students based on the last statement, and his belief that technology was actually killing our relationships. Unfortunately that principal was me. From my experience (at the time), I was watching students spending a lot of time on computers playing video games, doing “typing” programs, and spending times creating things like PowerPoint in groups where one student would be doing all of the work, while a group would be sitting there and interacting little. What had I seen, was all that I had known.
Then I started to open up my own learning and can see the power of technology not only for learning, but also to enhance relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still the “bad” out there, but knowing more, I am better to help myself and our students navigate past the bad and create the good.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, coined the term WYSIATI which stands for “What You See Is All There Is“. This idea is that we base our assumptions on limited evidence. I was “suffering” from that and have really tried to open up my eyes and learning more myself so that I can better help our students. My belief is that we focus on “what is best for kids” and that opening up my own learning helps to move students to that ultimate goal. The more I know, the more I can help.
That being said, I have seen people choose to limit their knowledge and embrace WYSIATI. It is easier to say things like “parents won’t embrace this new type of learning” (which I have heard a ton), but then you look at hashtags such as #ptchat (Parent-Teacher Chat), and you see parents not only “embracing”, but pushing for schools to be more relevant to the world we live in.
If you notice, I didn’t say “the world our kids live in”, because we all live in the same world.
You will hear people say things like “Twitter is stupid”. Just to clarify, Twitter is a thing and can’t be stupid. It is the equivalent of a student not understanding math and then saying “math is stupid”. It is often our lack of understanding that leads us to make statements like this, which I made myself. One of the questions that I ask people when they make these remarks is, “from your use of Twitter, tell me why it is stupid?”, which is sometimes followed by, “well I have never used it.” That would be the equivalent of me saying that a Lamborghini handles terribly. I could say that, but I have never experienced driving one, nor have I ever done any research on the vehicle.
Sometimes it is easy to argue when we choose to limit our thinking to WYSIATI. I have been very careful to not say “SnapChat has no educational value.” I have been caught making statements like this before, and although I do know a lot about the bad things that SnapChat is used for, someone one day might do something amazing with it. My lack of knowledge of the app (I have downloaded it but have have never used it) limits me to make statements. I don’t know what I don’t know. I thought Vine was stupid at first, but then people started doing really cool things with it.
As educators, we have to challenge one another and ourselves to broaden our our knowledge and experience when looking at a constantly changing world. Instead of making assumptions, we need to start asking questions. If WYSIATI, then we need to see a lot more if we are going to help our students.
A lack of knowledge can sometimes be used as a power, but when your in the business of learning, that should never happen.