Digital Literacy Skills or How to use a Hammer
Much of chapter four plays to an understanding I have about technology growth in general. When a child grows up with technology novel to their elders, they know how to use it in the manner of basic functions. This does not change the fact that they still have the minds and impulse control of children and adolescence. Teachers and educators must stay far more tech literate if they dream of being effective as educators in the 21st century. It is far too easy for adults to fall into the trap of either novelty without purpose or fear without understanding the potential of new software and hardware.
I liken this relationship with the history of that behemoth of a technological advancement called the hammer. As far as we have evidence for, the first stones used to drive or pulverize other material date back to 2,600,00 BCE. This epic shift in reality came with either a stroke of ingenuity or a very painful bump on the head from a falling stone. Needless to say, the first folks to utilize this tool found it useful for many tasks which would have taken much longer without this technology. Then they complained that their grandchildren didn’t respect the technology and used it in ways it was not meant for. You see, their grandchildren grew up watching their parents use the hammer and easily took to it at a young age. Then at some point they threw it at a sibling or broke Grandma’s favorite bear skull. As the millennia went by, grandchildren grew up and made the technology better. They tied sticks to it and marveled at the physics they had discovered, only to be disgusted in the sad reality that their grandchildren cared not about the advancement and only about smashing items around the hut with such a simple and fun toy. At some point, a parent or grandparent realized that if they gave the child a task meant for the hammer before explaining what it was, the child became a student and the student learned. This did not make the student any less apt to break items with the hammer, but when the focused task was available, the student learned. Mind, this was not the adult stating that the hammer was the destruction of society nor the savior of humanity, but a tool that made human time more efficient and allowed for time to be spent on other tasks.
This is technology. What we carry in our pockets is the digital age equivalent to the stone age hammer. Our grandchildren will use it faster and with more ease as well as for many of the wrong tasks. We must make the decision on wether to hand it to them without our own understandings of its potential, fear it and scare our children away from a useful tool, or know more about it than them and work to share that knowledge through meaningful activities that will also bring in community, family, and self worth. Just as this chapter encourages us to build our students’ skills in ITC, Media, and information literacy, we must build our own and have the forward thinking to see where tomorrow’s technology will take us and how we can best introduce and teach our students how they can be used to build instead of destroy.