Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Screwdriver and the Pencil

There is no mistaking the fact that the computer device our students now have access to daily and at home is an incredibly important and powerful tool. The school issued laptop will enable our students to create innovative projects and participate in learning opportunities that were only imagined prior to the launch of our initiative. Mr. Lewis was accurate in his description of the device as 'just another tool' that students now have in their toolbox. His analogy of a screwdriver and the limitations this tool has over an electric screwdriver paint a picture that I hope we don't soon forget. That screwdriver (or pencil as he described) is still important. We must be sure that we still honor and sharpen those skills. "Don't throw away your pencils," he said.

I considered the story about that deck he was rebuilding and it makes quite a bit of sense. Knowing how to build a deck is a skill that is independent of whether or not you use a hand tool like a screwdriver, manual cross cut saw, or a power drill and electric circular saw. The finished product is basically going to be the same, the difference is in the speed and ease with which the task is completed. I could be wrong, but I don't think too many of us would build a deck these days with hand tools. It just isn't very efficient or a good use of time.

The tools we use in education should be given the same consideration. I can distinctly remember many, many years ago working on a thesis and spending long hours scouring the 'stacks' in the library for scholarly resources to use in my paper. At that time one could go to the library and do a computer search for a reference (which was a big advancement from my undergraduate work when we still had a card catalog), but then you had to go searching through the stacks to find the journal. Sometimes you couldn't find it because someone else was using it, it was misfiled, or the pages that you were looking for were no where to be found. These days it is quite a bit different. I am able to log on to the library, do a search and query the article from my computer, wherever I happen to be. The article is always there, or if I need to borrow it with an inter-library loan I can typically have it in a few hours.

The skills that are being used are the same in both instances. Knowing how to do a search query, reading, comprehending, and then synthesizing the information are all done in the same way. I suppose one could argue that since the search is so efficient it enables us to create a finished product that is much more thorough. Just think about that for a second. Instead of spending time looking for information, you spend time reading your information. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great tutorial! I'm so nervous to do anything creative with anything electrical...this gives me more confidence! Thanks to publish such a nice information!

    Electronic Screwdrivers