Driver’s Ed

December 20, 2007 § Leave a comment

I had a very interesting conversation with one of our Tech Apps teachers yesterday.  I was in her lab installing updates for Google Earth and we started talking about her job, college, the holidays, just your usual small talk kind of stuff.

She mentioned during the course of the conversation that she was pretty much clueless about the technical side of things, to which my first reaction was (quietly, to myself, of course) really?  How can you be clueless about how computers and networks work, but still be the tech apps teacher.  She also said that when people came to her with problems (as they are wont to do when you are the computer teacher) she would either forward those things to the campus tech person, or forward it to my department.  When we email back, we always copy her, so she’s learning as she goes.

I started thinking about her lack of knowledge of technical issues.  I remembered back to when she was hired, and the principal gushing about how she didn’t talk at all about teaching the technology, but how she would use the technology to teach the core curriculum.

She’s a young woman, so she’s used to using technology, but since she’s grown up with it, she is in that generation of people who are users, but not necessarily “tech heads.”  It’s an interesting change to see happening.

The analogy that hit me this morning was Driver’s Education.  I seem come back to automobiles a lot when I think about computers and how we use them.  They just seem to fit perfectly when you really start thinking about it.  New technology at the beginning of the 20th century vs the end of the 20th century.  People who know the inner workings are seen as miracle workers when they fix something small, because the inner workings are seen as a complex mess by most of the general public.  People tinker with them to get them to run faster.

So, here’s why I thought about Driver’s Ed.  When I was in Driver’s Ed, I learned how to drive the car.  I learned how to put it in gear, how quickly to accelerate, how hard to break, the rules of the road, remembering to check my mirrors, put on my seatbelt, how to hold the steering wheel, and how to react when the car started to get out of control.

I never learned how to change the oil, flush the radiator, change the air filter, rotate the tires, change the sparkplugs or any other maintenance.   My teacher wasn’t an auto tech teacher, he was a Driver’s Ed teacher.

So why is it that we insist our Tech Apps teachers know all about the inner workings of the computer?  So they can fix it when it breaks?  Don’t we have technicians for that?  So they can troubleshoot when there are problems?  Again, aren’t our technicians supposed to do that?

Wouldn’t it be better if our Technology teachers were teachers first, and technologists second?  Wouldn’t that whole dynamic work better if the teachers of technology just happened to be the best teachers that used the technology the way it’s supposed to be used?

And wouldn’t it help our other teachers to maybe see that technology isn’t a mystery, something to be afraid of, but something that is useful, and that is expected of them?

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