As the debate continues about how much money the state should put in the pot to fund technology in public schools, and whether or not we want technology to replace teachers, I hope those making the decisions will consider what I feel are the true goals and values of public education.
Public schools exist to help prepare each student to be a happy, productive citizen in our democratic society. In cooperation with students and parents, schools should be committed to help each student find out about and feel good about him or herself, help each student learn how to be him or herself while functioning effectively in society, and help each student acquire the knowledge, skills and traits needed to succeed in life, placing special emphasis on helping each student learn to respect others' feelings or beliefs, property and rights.
The school should help each student find out about and feel good about themselves by providing opportunity to discover talents, abilities, aptitudes, preferences, heritage, values, etc. by providing opportunities and by accepting and appreciating each student’s uniqueness.
The school should help each student learn how to be him or herself while functioning effectively in society by accepting that the school is a mini society, and as such should be organized essentially to ensure a safe environment for everyone, fair treatment for everyone and freedom for each person to develop. The school as a mini-society must help each student learn how to be him or herself as much as possible while not taking away others’ rights to safety, fair treatment and freedom to develop.
The school should help each student acquire the knowledge, skills and traits needed to succeed in life. Knowledge should include arts and literature, science and history, healthy practices, other cultures, careers, the political process and technology. Skills should include learning, communication, math, reading, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and group processes, leadership, self-evaluation, goal setting, operating a computer. Traits should include self-discipline, self-direction, self-motivation, self-evaluation, responsibility, punctuality, dependability, self-confidence, willingness to work with others, patriotism, health, love of learning, concern for and willingness to work toward quality in school and personal lives, caring about others and proactivity.
As I look at the above goals, it seems apparent that teachers and group settings are very important, and that technology should be used to help teachers, not try to take their place and that the state needs to do everything possible to encourage good teachers to come here and to stay here during their career. When that is done, then invest in technology support as possible.