New Education Technology Changes Everything

Professor writes equations on a chalkboard.

Image from Wikimedia.

I am reading a book on a “new” educational technology. Everything in the book is hauntingly familiar. We have heard these warnings about technology and education before. Its “…importance as an instrument of instruction in the common school, has been insisted on in every periodical on education which I have seen, either of this country or Europe; as well as in almost every recent treatise on the same subject. It has also been introduced into most of our improved schools, of every grade, especially in New England and New York. In many of our common schools, however, it has been but barely introduced; the teacher knows almost as little how to use it as his pupils. It is vain or nearly in vain that our more intelligent Committees and even the Secretaries of our Boards of Education urge the importance of its use, from year to year, so long as no instruction is given concerning its use.”

We hear this all the time: why are we providing technology but not providing instruction in its proper use?

“It is in this view that I have prepared the following manual. It is, of course, not designed for pupils, but solely for teachers. Nor is it intended to be used blindly, even by teachers themselves. Let such only of its methods be tried as seem adapted to the circumstances of the teachert and let even those be modified to meet the peculiarities of his own school room. Hardly any mistake could be greater than for the teacher, who should take up a book like this, to adopt its various methods without reference to existing circumstances.”

So in other words, there is no one implementation of technology, but possible technological solutions to particular problems.

If you haven’t guessed, the technology is the slate black board. The book is The Slate Blackboard &; Exercises by William A. Alcott from 1843.

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