Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Degrees of Control

It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there's nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.
                                             --Wayne Dyer, American psychologist
I’ve been working on our professional development plans for the coming school year, and our primary focus will be preparation for becoming a 1:1 iPad school in the fall of 2013. Part of that has involved reviewing much of the research on technology integration I’ve done the past decade. Because I am so pro-technology and the reasons for this move are so obvious to me, I wanted to re-familiarize myself with concerns and fill in potential potholes. One of the recurring themes is that teachers shun technology because they worry about losing control over what kids are doing and learning.
I understand that. But I have a question. Just how much control do you believe you actually have over that?
As an example, I’ll use myself—well, the version of myself circa kindergarten through grad school and, truth be told, in certain meetings and presentations. I am very capable of letting my mind drift far from whatever the given topic is; indeed, I did so more often than not during most of my classes. That is, unless I had one of those wonderful teachers who engaged me in active learning projects. At other times, I went through the proper motions and caused no problems, so my teachers said I was doing just fine.
Now for a larger second question. Given the real goals of education in the fullest human sense, is such control really desirable? Not just now, not just regarding technology, but ever. As the Buddha wrote over two centuries ago, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

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