Friday, April 13, 2018

technology and indigenous progress

This is the next iteration of my thoughts which began with "Digital Immersion Mongrel Vygotsky"


Progessive pathway: from little bits big bytes grow
Conservative pathway: the sinister glamour of modernity

Technology initially invades, just like colonialism.

When the Yolngu first saw a ship’s anchor they thought the explanation for such a massive amount of metal was that it must come from the gods. Up to that point they had only traded small amounts of metal for spear tips, with the Macassans.

But unlike colonialism, the attraction of the new technology is an irresistible force. Rusted car bodies litter remote Australia, the legacy of opportunist car dealers exploiting the indigenous.

Technology without understanding is not empowerment. The cargo cult is not liberation.

Others speak of the sinister glamour of modernity. That is sometimes true. In 19thC Australia the combination of repeating rifles, horses and native police recruited at a distance were used to brutally crush the local tribes.

How do we frame the whole discussion about technology and change?

There are arguments for and against the use of more sophisticated technology in schools.

The most common expression of this is that technology is just a tool, which assists us in delivering a curriculum whose content is determined by other factors independent of technology (instrumentalism)

More interesting is the them and us framing. There are two version of them and us.

The first has a Damnation theme, as represented in movies or characters such as HAL, the computer in 2001: a Space Odyseey, The Matrix and Terminator.

The second theme is Salvation. A few years ago Ray Kurzweil predicted a Singularity at 2020 when due to increasing processing power machines transform into something totally different.

Rather than them and us I prefer the augmentation theme: Us as Them, We the Machines. We use technology as a means to augment our human characteristics - something that we have already been doing for thousands or millions of years

Nevertheless there remains a difference between commercial progress and human progress. Commercial progress is mainly about making more money. This leads to rhetorical lameness and a dumbing down of the true potential of technology. Commercial rhetoric focuses on technology hype, jobs, money and the obligatory “fun”. They ignore real economic analysis (deep problems of capitalism), philosophy, social justice, cultural diversity, learning theory and that we are dealing with a new medium.

Digital is the new medium, the new literacy. How could you justify resistance to that?

STEM is overhyped and promoted in the wrong way by commercial interests. But it makes as much sense to resist STEM as a monk scribe resisting the printing press in the 15thC. Resistance is futile, you will lose. More importantly, it is not the right thing to do.

1450: printing press invented by Gutenberg
1454,5: Gutenberg Bible produced (Gutenberg Bible )
1456-mid 80s: classical and religious books were produced, essentially copies of profitable old manuscript books
1484: the first scientific illustrations appeared in books

The first novel did not appear till the 1700's and comics did not appear till the 1900's.

So, it's reasonable to assume that the older generation has to die out before the new generation can find their own path. Although the older generation has it's share of creative visionaries they are marginalised by the majority.

NEXT SECTION Exemplars before detailed rationale. But the exemplars need to tap into both local, contextual culture and a proven or at least plausible learning theory.

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