19 Urban Questions: Teaching in the City

By Shirley R. Steinberg; Joe L. Kincheloe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

How Important Is
Technology in Urban
Education?

Vanessa Domine

Most respond to the question of technology in urban education with the complaint that “poor” schools don't have sufficient access to computers. Given the current digital age and the tumultuous history between technology and public schooling in the United States, the misguided definitions of technology as only computers and of urban communities as merely “poor” are not surprising. What is particularly problematic is the overarching assumption that computer access alone can address the challenges (overcrowding, high dropout rates, low test scores, inadequacies in teacher preparation) and opportunities (racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity) within urban settings. While the use of computers can address some of these challenges on some level, their haphazard presence in the classroom more often than not indicates a dysfunction in the ideal of technology as consisting exclusively of computers and the Internet, and the lack of attention to the real needs of urban school teachers.

Thus, my answer to the question of how important technology is in urban education has to do with renewing our commitment to urban education while downplaying the technologies. I do not wish to diminish the importance of technological proficiency, as it plays a significant role in achieving educational innovation. However, success within urban education requires an authentic and ecological approach to schooling. In the context of student learning, urban schools are merely one component within a larger system that includes family, community, and government. In the context of teaching, technology is merely one component within a larger system that involves professional development, leadership, communica

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