Student Personal Tech Devices in the Classroom? A Cartoon Parable

“The Cameraman” – From Cartoonist Chris Ware, animator John Kuramoto and Ira Glass of This American Life. First grade teacher, Jeff Potter tells Ira about an art project and the impact of  personal “technology” in the classroom. 

“The camera really changed the way we behaved…. We lost our humanity.”

Were the cameras really responsible for the student insensitively to the fight? Was banning the cameras the only alternative the teachers had? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. 

But it does strike me that the cameras were also a catalyst to creativity, collaboration, and powerful student engagement. Is this a parable about balancing the benefits and liabilities of cell phones and other student personal technology in the classroom?

Hat tip to David Kwasigroh

4 Replies to “Student Personal Tech Devices in the Classroom? A Cartoon Parable”

  1. The first thing that pops into my head is the story about Bill Nye collapsing during a speech he was giving to a group of college students last year. Nobody ran to help him, but they were all tweeting the event and updating their FB status with the breaking news.

  2. I don’t think the cell phone is the culprit in our reluctance to see humanity. Deb Meier in her recent blog posted our inability to talk to strangers: Could it be the underlining design of schools that have promoted isolation in our classrooms? Do schools foster cooperative, “sink or swim together” concepts? Or does the competitive nature of schooling promote a Darwinian survival of the fitness? The whole idea of global testing means that for us to be #1 others need to be in the “pile” of “losers.”

    It doesn’t take much for me to recall the handing back of assignments and tests as a High school student recalling that “Thank God” I wasn’t the “loser” who received the “bad” grade. I wonder if our school designs are promoting the right values. If we promoted community building would less fights occur. I know in our school, fighting is non-existant, and may be due to the community building we actively pursue.

  3. Russ,
    Also reminds me that years ago I was in a small town watching a bull fight – my one and only. The last matador was quite dashing and daring. I was shooting lots of pics with my telephoto SLR. He got gored and I just kept shooting. Nothing I could do about it, but I’m surprised I didn’t stop and look away.

  4. Jamie,

    Thanks for the link to the thoughtful Meier piece. I think the entire information landscape of the traditional school is out of step with how we connect today. It needs a serious makeover.

    I know of the fine work you are doing to build community through schools and I applaud your efforts.

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