Are you tech literate?
And should schools be doing more to make sure you are?
Although our nation increasingly depends on technology and is adopting new technologies at an incredible pace, many of our citizens are not equipped to make well-considered decisions or to think critically about technology.
Adults and children alike have a poor understanding of the necessary characteristics of technology, how it influences society, and how people affect its advancement.
Many people are not even fully aware of the technologies they use every day. In short, as a society, we are not technologically literate.
Because few people today have hands-on experience with technology, except as finished consumer goods, technological literacy depends largely on what they learn in the classroom, particularly in elementary and secondary school.
However, relatively few educators are involved in setting standards and developing programs to promote technological literacy. In general, technology is not treated seriously as a subject in any grade, kindergarten through 12th.
An exception is the use of computers and the Internet, an area that has been strongly promoted by federal and state governments. But even here, efforts have focused on using these technologies to improve education rather than to teach students about technology. As a result, many K-12 educators identify technology almost exclusively with computers and related devices and so believe, mistakenly, that their institutions already teach about technology.
The case for technological literacy must be made consistently and on an ongoing basis. As citizens gradually become more sophisticated about technological issues, they will be more willing to support measures in the schools and in the informal education arena to raise the technological literacy level of the next generation.
In time, leaders in government, academia, and business will recognize the importance of technological literacy to their well-being and the welfare of our nation. Achieving this goal promises to be a slow and challenging journey, but one that is unquestionably worth embarking on.
About Charlie Perkins
Charlie Perkins is an author, musician, photographer, and videographer based in Rochester. The Chicago-bred Perkins attended Northwestern University concentrating on Radio, TV Broadcasting, and Interpersonal Communications. He spent 29 years at Harris Bank in Chicago and taught “Principles of Corporate Television” Columbia College in the same city. He has also spent 17 years as Unit Manager, Media Support Services for the Mayo Clinic. In a previous life, he covered the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan’s championship run, ’96-‘98 as a freelance photographer.