I found myself chuckling through several of the readings this week, which I feel slightly bad about considering they addressed the very worthy notion of bring technology and history together in the classroom to produce a more stimulating and productive learning environment. My parents are both teachers. My father just retired from 35 years of teaching history in a public high school (mine, as a matter of fact) and my mother is still plugging away as the “tween queen,” teaching history and geography to eight and ninth graders (ironically enough, in the middle school I went too.) Both of them can barely use a computer. As my father now has an abundance of free time on his hands, and a brand new MAC, I see his skills getting better and better gradually…this Thanksgiving, we may attempt to master ITunes (gasp.) My mother on the other hand, keeps her desk at school stocked with candy and juice boxes to entice the young history and math teachers whose classrooms are adjacent to hers to type out her e-mails too me as she dictates them, as she “just can’t figure out that whole Internet thing.” (“Karin, how do you remember where all this stuff is on the Internet?” Google, ma, google.) My father was the king of scantron until the day he walked out the doors of my high school. Ease and speed, check and double check. My mother still has the kids write out/circle answers on paper tests, but that’s only because the scantron reader intimidates the hell out of her. I can picture them reading the articles that I read this week and giving me that “you kids and your crazy new ideas” look. They don’t see any reason to incorporate technology (past the overhead projector and the VCR) into their classrooms because they can’t see how it’s relevant, or how it could possibly be a source for materials they can’t get from the library. As a child of teachers, I spent a lot of time with teachers throughout life (BBQs, holiday parties, etc) and my parents friends, other teachers in my old school district, aren’t using web resources in the classroom either, with the exception of the younger generation of teachers starting to walk the halls of school. How do you make a generation of educator explore the wealth of history resources on-line, if they don’t understand, or brush aside, it’s medium, a computer.
David Pace writes “The creation and dissemination of better tools for responding to the challenges of teaching history today could allow us to apply the intellectual skills that we have honed so carefully to the solution of the very real problems that we face in the classroom and that the nation as a whole faces on a larger scale. “ I think the first step in this process though is getting teachers to confront the fact that, as Cohen says, “if [they] are going to continue to insist on having machines grade students, then [teachers]should expect that they are going to insist on being able to anser exam questions using the machines in their pocket.” Teachers, especially secondary school teachers, need to become more comfortable with incorporating the Internet in their classrooms. The figures we examined in Mills Kelly’s article were amazing…students in all four sections surveyed in the article hardly used a textbook (granted this is at a university level, but it’s still relevant when you wonder how many middle and high school kids crack theirs.) Overall, it just doesn’t seem like a student is realisticly prepared to enter college in 2006/2007 without having learned the methods of resonsible research on the web in high school. Despite the ease of using web based history resources, I still see teachers, especially the baby-boomers resisting the technology.