Slide Rules and the Golden Handshake


When Engineers Thought Slide Rules Were Cool

My father was an engineer from the 50’s through late 80’s.  The slide rule and a very fine, black, felt-tipped pen were his tools.

And then technology took the engineering field by the neck and drug it into the future with a fury.  My dad, however, resisted.  I’m quite certain he was clenching the slide rule in the other hand when his company gently urged him out with a golden handshake.

I wish he knew then how much he would have loved the computer.  

Fast forward to 2010.  Meet Dan Brown.  He  dropped out of college and created this video.   Dan believed that time spent in school interfered with his learning.

created by Pogobat

created by Pogobat

“We are in the midst of a very real revolution.  If institutional education refuses to adapt to the landscape of the information age, it WILL die and it SHOULD die.”

I think of this often as a person dedicated to providing quality,  relevant professional learning to special educators.  I am deeply concerned about educators being  leaders in the information age.   If they are leading our children into the future, how can they do this “unplugged”?

 What are the benefits of using technological tools to support learning?  There are many.

First on the list:  Students like it.  They use it.  

Further, it:

  • facilitates making  connections and  reflection
  •  filters and manages information
  • supports collaborative dialogue (globally, with people who don’t look like them)
  • helps students persuade
  • allows students to synthesize, create, display,

But it isn’t the tool itself.   Good lesson design always starts with “WHY”.    We don’t “do” activities.  We TEACH concepts and facilitate the learning.  The tool is a swift facilitator.  It  “comes” engaging.   It isn’t  going away.  Shouldn’t educators LEAD this?

“There’s nothing magical about any tech tool.  The real MAGIC rests in the minds and hearts of the teachers using digital tools to introduce students to new individuals, ideas and opportunities.”  Bill Ferriter, The Gadget Happy Classroom

But the key is:  you have to USE them to know when they will (or will not) support the thinking and learning in your classroom.  Why are many people resistent?  Here is what I’ve heard:  “it’s too much”; “there are too many gadgets to weed through”; “technology isn’t the panacea”;

 As Clay Shirky says:  

“Do you think “information overload” is just another excuse for why folks aren’t getting things done? What kind of filters do you have in place to keep yourself from getting snowed under?”

It seems many people cope with easy access to most all  information by taking themselves out of the game altogether.

That IS a filter failure.  Ultimately, the students will lose.  Will we allow ourselves to opt for the golden handshake, literally (or figuratively)?

Educators must stay ahead of  (or with) the students through professional learning.  Deleting technology is a mistake because it is the tool for the future.  

The students and new teachers know this.  Do you?


One thought on “Slide Rules and the Golden Handshake

  1. Pingback: Technology Fosters Agency | mpnENGAGED

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