It’s Not About Technology
Sometimes we experience things that just won’t leave us alone. Something profound will leave an indelible mark, and later, we’ll be engaging the routines of life, and our minds will bring us back to the thought we assumed we had forgotten. A thought we can’t seem to leave alone. This week, that thought was brought on for me as I was experiencing an incredible, beautifully sad website.
I’d try to capture the essence of the site in a summary, but I know that’s an impossibility. You honestly have to take ten uninterrupted minutes of your own life to see for yourself. I promise it will be worth every second. The site is original in its navigation, and it takes a couple seconds to get oriented, but once there, I’d highly recommend you read every word and take in every image. When you’re done, come back to discuss the implications on education if you have the time. Here’s the site. Days With my Father.
The thing that I can’t shake about the website and the experience I had with it is the fact that somehow it’s entirely about technology, yet absolutely not about technology all at once. The site is ingenious in its design and layout, and the pictures are stunning. But it’s the story I can’t stop thinking about. And there’s the issue.
Without the technology, it isn’t likely I would have ever read the story, or stopped to reflect on what I’m doing to make my days with my family count. I wouldn’t have been entirely captivated by the haunting image of Toledano’s father with his eyes closed as he experiences a moment of absolute melancholy and understanding. But for all its ingenuity, the technology simply isn’t the point here.
I’ve heard too often lately that technology is the point. I don’t think it’s ever about the technology. I think it’s always about the story. Everything we do with technology is done to communicate information. Think about every great technological advance that has changed the course of our culture. It has done so through the communication of information. We communicate more effectively and on a more massive scale now than ever before. The very fact that you’re reading the writing of a traditionally unpublished person you’ve not likely met is evidence of that.
Technology pundits will tell you we have to focus on integrating technology in the classroom. I find I’m getting integrating fatigue. We certainly need to utilize technology in instruction, but I think we need to find a different way to communicate with teachers, students, and the community how technology fits into all this. We don’t use technology so we can check off a box saying that a student knows how to execute some skill in isolation like delete files from the desktop. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a teacher mark the “effectively uses pencil eraser” field on any report. Technology is just a tool that gets us deeper into the richest part of learning where we want our students to be.
Obviously I’m still working through the implications of all this. Like I said before, sometimes we experience things that just won’t leave us alone. I’m there right now, and it’s because of technology and one really incredible story.
Image used with permission from Phillip Toledano.