Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Ed Tech is the new Home Ec and Shop

By on May 27, 2008

Mark Wagner of EdTechLife fame posted a great, comprehensive and layman’s look into the candidates’ educational policies. He discovered some surprising and not-so-surprising facts.

For one, McCain doesn’t even mention Ed Tech as factor in his education policies.  For another, Clinton doesn’t either.  Obama mentions it, but only in regards to the maths and sciences.

I think they all are missing the big picture here.  McCain and Clinton are totally detached from the necessity to incorporate technology organically into our schools; and Obama, well, I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he thought he was speaking to the needs of this generation, but I frankly fear it is rhetoric catering to the elite of the STEM-fevered crowds concerned about our place in the new global community at large.

Members of my staff have complained that with the loss of Shop class and Home Ec, the blue-collared, not-college-bound student is not being trained sufficiently.  They, too, are missing the big picture.

Ed Tech is the Home Ec and Shop class for this generation.  Everyone, not just the honors students, needs to be in the loop.  Everyone, from every family, needs to be learning the skills to get by as adults.  And “getting by” means comfort with basic technology.  

It falls to the schools.  Many families do not stress reading or writing in their day-to-day relationships with their children – yet we as educators know its importance and it falls to the schools to bridge the gap.  Many families do not stress mathematics skills in their day-to-day relationships with their children – yet we as educators know its importance and it falls to the schools to bridge the gap.  And many families do not stress computer skills because they don’t own one, or don’t have the skills themselves, or don’t foresee the need to learn these skills – so it falls to us as educators to see the writing on the wall, that the gap will quickly widen between those who have learned those skills and those who have not.

True, we find ourselves at a peculiar and unique crossroads.  For in the top two examples listed above, we educators knew the importance in part because we ourselves were educated with the stress on Language Arts and Math.  What is unique here is that we as educators weren’t brought up as a computer generation; but our pupils, our clients, have.  And many teachers, unfortunately, are still making decisions and carry with us prejudices about technology that will only serve to stunt those we are charged to prepare – the students.

We cannot allow the parents of today, many teachers of today, and many politicians of today, those who did not grow up with computers, to limit the lessons that are quickly becoming the foundation of an equitable education.

My friend was recently asked to help an acquaintance to apply for a grounds keeping job.  Why did she have to help? Because the application was online and because the gentleman had to set up an email account just to apply for the opportunity to interview.

This is the future.  If we do not weave computers and technology into our schools more thoroughly and equitably, then we, my friends, are widening the achievement gap and not fulfilling the definition of our jobs as educators…to prepare all of our students, not just the elite, for lives as productive citizens in our society.  

Just as not all parents can read or write, not all parents are computer literate.  And while there are still some teachers who are not computer literate either, it still must fall to the schools to fill in the technical divide.  

It is not our job to keep our students using our generation’s tools.  This merely prepares them for what was our future.  It is, rather, our job to prepare them for theirs.

 

 

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