Monday, January 14, 2008

What is Technology? Why Do We Care?

For those of you who read my postings, I thank you. I hope to provide a blog that contains news, information and opinion on a wide variety of issues related to teaching in our world today.

Please don't expect a narrow vision of education and people, because you WILL be disappointed. I am a technologist, not a technocrat, therefore my definition of technology globalizes the concept in my mind. It is this global vision of life, the view of the entire ecosystem, if you will, that I show through all my actions and interactions.

I view technology as the study of all that people have created to improve their ability to do something they already do or something that people want to do. Technology includes computers and software, but it only INCLUDES THESE SUBCATEGORIES with ALL the other technology that people are continuing to create.

During the last decades of the 20th century, I was shocked to learn that some people were defining technology as the study of all things computer. Think of it! In their minds, just the computer is defined as technology! This could be funny, if I were not so embarrassed for these poor limitations people exert on themselves. How could they go so far astray? How did some people lose sight of the lessons about high and low technology? Surely they don't believe low technology is related to the computer? Surely these people can't believe that the new designs, materials and applications that will send us to other planets are NOT technology?

A major challenge of the future will be to respect and collaborate with people whose work and technology some may not value, because some people don't YET understand. I am motivated by this challenge to include those who do understand and those who have yet to gain an understanding. I hope to express this collaboration through my work, including my writing.

An important aspect of my search for the inclusive, collaborative nature of education is expressed through my blog design. I think you can see it in the components, the technology, that I add to my blog, not just the postings. My conjecture is that it's easier to include than it is to exclude.

Exclusion takes a lot of work. Right away, a person must exert great effort to remember their exclusionary categories. Exclusion, in my opinion, is a fool's endeavor that leads to limiting groups that should experience the exponential growth qualities expressed within inclusive, interactive, collaborative groups.

Exclusion belittles all, those who dish it out and take it. Practice exclusion at your own peril. Let's don't belittle!

Have you ever heard the old saying, "The sky's the limit?" When that saying was created, it referred to the fact that nothing, no idea, no person and no event should be underestimated or trivialized. Now we know that the sky is not the limit, so I suppose we need new sayings to express the limitless nature of people's abilities and imaginings.

We also need complete paradigms for the way we include others in our worldview, just as we need complete definitions of technology. How will our culture and society grow and develop in such a way that we encourage inclusion, collaboration, across racial, political, educational and personal barriers? This is part of the never-ending story, and people cannot afford to limit themselves. Limitations, exclusions, create atrophy within a culture which leads to its stagnation, and in the end, its gradual, whimpering demise.

I don't believe it is time to say our culture is withering away, but I can see exclusionary forces, especially among leaders in education, government, business, religion, and the sciences. These exclusionary forces can detrimentally affect our growth as people in this world today.

Unintentionally, these exclusionary thinkers may wall off, exclude, the very ideas from the outside that may save those who believe they have all the answers. Humility is also a part of the inclusive nature of societies. I know that humility is often in short supply, but we, especially teachers, must practice it.

For the main reason to practice humility, to be humble, remains our frailty, our innate ALONENESS...the fact that we will NEVER really know what others are all about...their hopes, dreams, knowledge and fears that prompt their motives which steer their actions.

By including, engaging and enjoining those we don't understand, we help ourselves learn and begin to understand. These understandings develop responses that encourage us as we support ourselves, our families and our societies in an honorable manner. Isn't that a commendable basis for education?

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