Saturday, September 21, 2013

Amish approach to technology

This NPR story about the Amish and technological advances aired a while ago, but it keeps coming back to me again and again when I talk to people about technology and how it impacts our culture. So the Amish aren't necessarily anti-tech, but they think long and hard about how technology might impact the community and the culture? What a concept. Maybe we should rethink our slavish approach to tech changes.

Diane Ravitch says schools need librarians!

Sometimes Diane Ravitch sounds like the only voice of reason rising out of heated debate over public education. Recently, I interviewed Ravitch for Salon about charters, vouchers, Big Data, Teach for America and her new book, Reign of Error.

Here's one section of the interview that didn't make it into the Salon piece -- Ravitch on school librarians:

DMO: Since I am a public school librarian, I do have to ask about libraries. A lot of people have lost faith in libraries and they say that everybody can just Google everything anyway and so we don't need libraries. You do think we need librarians, and I'm wondering why?

Diane Ravitch: Well, I've always been a supporter of librarians and libraries because I think that libraries are the place where you learn how to use information. You learn how to use information in the classroom, but librarians are skilled — and much more so than when I was in school — in teaching you how to access information and provide tremendous resources.

I love the idea that you can go into a library and I have to say I still like books, no matter how much technology I use, no matter how many times I go to the Internet. I think that some of the most important learning experiences for me personally came from browsing in the library and finding unexpected things, and you don't find too many unexpected things on the Internet – you find what you look for. In the library, you can find things you didn't know you were looking for.

I think libraries are important because librarians are skilled in technology – they don't just file books away, they teach kids how to use the technology and how to use it responsibly.