Magazine article Technology & Learning

Schools Need Good Teachers and Good Technology

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Schools Need Good Teachers and Good Technology

Article excerpt

Two years ago, I wrote a column called "Best of All ... It Isn't Teacher Proof," which made the point that good teachers are more important than good technology, but that it is well within the reach of schools to have both. This point has become even more important and needs to be revisited.

It is completely mistaken for school officials to think they need to choose between teachers and technology. Schools should not pursue a future based on replacing teachers with teaching machines. Instead, the focus should be on creating a collaboration between teachers and technology to help students learn. Here's why.

Teachers and technology each have vitally important, but different, roles to play in education. Computers and related technologies are best described as tools for teaching and learning. They are by far the greatest information and communication resources ever created, and no human being can compete with computer-based technologies when it comes to storing, retrieving, presenting, or transmitting information. If teaching consisted primarily of dispensing information, then these tools could replace teachers. But teaching comprises far more. Good teaching is at least as much art as it is science.

The Art of Teaching

Technology possesses no philosophy of education; it does not have an epistemology; and it cannot practice teaching as an art independently or directly.

The art of teaching is defined by the non-quantifiable elements of the transaction between teacher and student that ultimately determine the quality of a student's educational experience. It is not programmable. It requires human intelligence and interaction.

In his landmark book, How to Solve It, written well before the advent of the personal computer, G. Polya writes about the relationship between teacher and student. He describes the art of teaching as knowing just when to step in with a question or suggestion, and when to back off and let a student wrestle with a new concept or process.

According to Polya, good teaching goes far beyond just directing students toward answers to problems. Good teaching must also help students develop discernment, taste, and judgment; help them learn to form questions and pose problems that lead to answers.

Good teachers also have a special ability for taking advantage of the teachable moment. …

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