Friday, October 16, 2009

The Liberal Arts / Techie Mashup

Apple calls its distinguished educators, "Authors, Advocates, Advisers, and Ambassadors". But at school I sometimes get called a "techie." Though I understand it, I really bristle at the term. Truthfully, my technical skills are rather limited, and I certainly can't help someone with his or her scanner or printer problems. Though I have put myself through lots of training with software over the last couple of years, I don't find that I have a particular aptitude for it.

Fortunately, I think its my knowledge of English literature, film, and political science as well as my experience with classroom dynamics which dominate my skill set. Knowing enough about technologies to see how they might enhance the curriculum in those areas allows me to be an innovator. At least that's how I see myself.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my AP Government class is going into blogging in a big way this semester. The first post was an M.I.T. video of Thomas Friedman lecturing on "The World Is Flat, 3.0". After marvelling at recent technologies though most of the speech, Friedman surprises at the end of the lecture by emphasizing the importance of a liberal arts education. I was pleased by student reflections on this:

Erin L
I found it interesting how Friedman thought the liberal arts studies are more important now than ever. And, after thinking about this and listening to what Friedman said about "mashing up" ideas, I also agree that it is extremely important.

Katie C.
Friedman talks of a liberal arts education, and the value of having more than one major/area of study. I agree with him that in today's "flat world", having more than one specific area of study is beneficial for the individual. This is an important concept for our generation, for us, the future college student. By accepting "the world is flat" idea, we can try to ensure our own success. By pursuing an education with variety and culture, we will be able to relate better with the world, not just a specific field.

The "mashing" of content area knowledge, educational theory, and technology-- What a great metaphor. As faire alchemist has noted, students "are going to need both content knowledge and critical 21st century skills. They are going to need to understand how to live an immediately connected networked life." Fortunately, many of these technology skills can be learned "on the fly". We teachers don't have to go back to university to acquire a computer engineering degree to become a "techie", but we do need to have our professional development supported with time and training. If we want da Vinci teachers who are both technically astute and grounded in the liberal arts, the leaders at our schools must nurture renaissance cultures.

"Da vinci Technology" Flickr Creative Commons photo by rafeejewell

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