cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Alan Bruce
More than machinery we need humanity, more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all.” Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator
When people talk about the use of technology sucking the humanity out of our lives, many times they are right. Think about calling a business for help and getting an automated machine? What is the first thing that many people do? Press zero. Why is that? In my experience, it is because I am wanting to talk to a person, and not a machine. Schools that use this same type of program for tracking “attendance” have to be cognizant that this creates a similar experience for a school community.
Many talk about the past and the experience with banking and how nice it is to talk to a person as opposed to a machine. My experience lately has been different. The last time I went to deposit some money, the teller kept asking me if I would be interested in a multitude of products, while I was only there to deposit a cheque. Every time I said no, she came back with another question. Getting annoyed with the conversation, and noticing she was continuously looking at her computer while she asked me these things, I leaned over, turned the monitor towards my eyes, and noticed a box called “conversation starters”. Seemingly embarrassed, I asked what it was, and she told me that it was a program that looked at my financial situation, and gave her ideas of things that she could sell me. She was mortified that I revealed the “Wizard” behind the curtain and that the Wiz was nothing more than a computer. I would rather go to a machine, then have a fake conversation with a person that was generated by a computer.
This is how technology sucks the humanity out of our world.
There are many ways that technology is bring the humanity back in though.
Being able to interact with “personalities”, whether it be on the news or media, is something that we could not do before and is bring a community closer. Giving keynotes at different conferences, I pride myself on the ability to connect with people after my talk so that we can learn things together after any conversations at the conference. Through this experience, I have made friends all over the world that I would consider my closest.
Most recently, starting the “School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program” (#SAVMP), technology (again) is going to be used to forge relationships in an area of education that is quite isolated. Instead of using technology to create a “mass” connection, we are using it to make smaller, deeper connections with people, while also openly sharing what we learn with others.
As you look at your own practice, and the practice of your school, what use of technology either “connects” or “disconnects” your kids? I have seen some teachers that use the “dehumanizing” argument put their students in a lab and let them use games or apps. More often then not, I believe this is not because they want to build these connections, they just genuinely do not understand it themselves. I recently heard that there was a study done saying that teachers are less likely to have students create virtual “networks” with people, if they do not do it themselves.
That is in every facet of what we do. If we do not understand or experience it ourselves, it is a lot harder to teach.
How do you use technology to connect or disconnect either personally, or organizationally Sometimes I want the convenience of a bank machine, but I don’t want a machine driving my experience at a bank when I am trying to talk to a person. Schools should take a good look at these practices themselves.
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