High Tech – High Touch
The new technology position statement has just been released by NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children), and it’s creating a lot of discussion. I’ve had some interesting talks with directors and teachers who are trying to find appropriate ways to bring technology into the classroom. Of course the key word is appropriate.
When you think about it, that’s how Fred Rogers approached television. He set out to use the new technology of his day – television – to communicate with children, because he felt that when used appropriately, it could be a great tool for their learning in all domains – cognitively, emotionally, socially and physically.
Watch this Neighborhood video to see how Fred dealt with the question of using technology for learning.
The position statement is full of information, but there’s one key point that stood out for me because it’s so closely aligned with an essential element in our work: Using technology to foster communication and relationships.
Fred felt strongly that “screens” should not be used as a substitute for human communication. He originally named our production company Family Communications, because his goal was to create experiences that parents and children would watch together and talk about. He firmly believed the best technology connects children with others and the world around them in positive ways.
Whatever level of technology is appropriate or available in your setting, I thought you might be interested to know about some ideas I’ve heard from teachers who are connecting “screen” time and human interaction in these ways:
To encourage conversation
To build cooperation
To expand learning experiences
While I’m struggling along with everyone else to find ways to use technology appropriately, I try to keep in mind something I learned from Fred: Let’s not get so fascinated by what the technology can do that we forget what it can’t do. As he always reminded us, “It’s through relationships that we grow best and learn best.”
"No matter how helpful computers are as tools (and of course they can be very helpful tools), they don't begin to compare in significance to the teacher-child relationship which is human and mutual. A computer can help you learn to spell HUG, but it can never know the risk or the joy or actually giving or receiving one.”
Here’s the link to the full text of the joint position statement “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8," issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College.
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