Shortly before Barack Obama’s presidency ended, his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan argued in the Wall Street Journal that “equipping every public school with the ultimate in electronic tools will improve student learning immeasurably.” Duncan opined that “equitable access to a world class education” would be possible only if all schools get on board and technologically arm their schools to the hilt.
Although Spell Check, Grammar Check, and even Map Quest are often just plain wrong, we should still stand in awe of what technology can do. (Ask those of us who have had open heart surgery.) When Samuel Morse in 1838 completed his world-changing electrical telegraph system and tapped out those famous words, “What hath God wrought?” little could we have imagined the extent to which technology would spread.
Technology is a blessing but one would be hard pressed to argue that it has increased learning. Education is one thing. Educational tools are another. Access is one thing. Understanding is another. Computers are one thing. Human beings are another. What does it matter how fast a screen can pull up information for students if there is little or no processing – discussing, comparing and contrasting, applying context, questioning – of what is pulled up? It appears that Secretary Duncan has moved as far away from Socrates as one could possibly move. Not to mention the old saw, “True education is Abe Lincoln on one end of a log and famous teacher Mark Hopkins on the other.”
Technology is a false god. It towers over us and we bow to it. It beckons and we rush to it, whether it’s our cell phones, screens in a restaurant, or screens at the gas pump, for heaven’s sake. Since tech now pervades our world, it only makes sense to employ it in the classroom. Well, not so fast says Stanford University researcher Larry Cuban whose research has found “no clear and substantial evidence of students increasing their academic achievement as a result of using educational technology.”
For record keeping, student information, and other necessary school minutia, technology has been a God-send. For instruction it has not. Indeed, Cuban’s words remind me of what a college freshman said to me several years ago: “We’re getting pretty tired of power point but nobody ever gets tired of a good teacher or a lively class discussion.” That student was 18.
But there are other false gods, one particularly to which so many bow and on which so many depend. It is the god of government. FDR and LBJ would cheer, but Jefferson and Reagan would rumble in their graves to learn of the size and scope of government in America today. The coercion that House Democrats call “For the People Act” (HR 1) is exactly what America’s Founders and others were trying to escape. Among other equally incredible measures, HR 1 would undermine and weaken state election laws.
Here’s how. It includes an automatic voter registration for public assistance applicants. In essence and in effect it would federalize the administration of national elections. HR1 isn’t hard to find. Every citizen should read it.
Anyone who supports these measures worships government. They apparently lean on authority without question and would never be heard to say, “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.” Instead, they would hand over their brother to Big Brother. As for the Georgia legislature’s effort to remedy election fraud, watch as Atlanta’s CEO’s (who haven’t read HR1) continue to line up and threaten to move to Timbuktu unless the recently passed election law is changed.
Worshippers of government don’t care if boys are allowed to join girls’ sports teams, if Congress can be protected by a substantial fence but citizens can’t, if gun ownership is severely restricted, or if schools and universities cram critical race theory down our kids’ throats. They also don’t care if the USA goes the way of Chile, a nation that was one of the wealthiest nations in South America until 2013 when a new leftist government pushed the “spread the wealth” gospel, creating “equality” for sure (equal poverty), but plunging the nation into an economic free fall.
There is a kinship of these two false gods. Pervasive technology has diminished human touch; pervasive government has diminished localism. Technology has increased fake friendship and loneliness; government has increased centralized power and dependency. The purpose of government, American style, has been to serve its people. We best beware of, yea totally resist, HR 1 as it heads to the U.S. Senate and we might consider what screens are doing to our health and to our kids and grandkids in school.