Education · Social Justice · Technology and Society

Technological Abundance, Communal Poverty

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday I met with Miriam Larson, school librarian at Kenwood elementary school, and Travis Faust, the extraordinary research assistant who has been working at Kenwood in the before/after school program called Tech Time. We were reflecting on the past year and beginning the planning for the coming year. Miriam had posted the above quote by Dr. King on the library wall, and I think it sums up nicely our goals for Kenwood and the other sites with which we are working to develop new popular, progressive digital literacy education.

Too often science and technology education generally, and digital literacy specifically, is separated out from the social. It is part of the broader siloing of education into discrete disciplines. Kenwood’s vision as a school emphasizes Technology and Literacy for the Community. How fitting it is, then, that they lead us in reconsidering how we measure success of a technologically-focused before and after school program, as captured in the notes from our meeting:

Tech Time will not merely measure its success on how well we prepare the Kenwood community to participate in a world of scientific and technological abundance. We will measure our success based on our own and our children’s ability to “walk the earth as brothers and sisters.” In other words, we aim to see students, teachers, parents, and community members discovering and working towards shared goals that recognize our interdependence and aim to find a place of belonging for each member of the community.

May all our digital literacy, science and technology educational programs live up to such a high vision as we work to address our communal poverty by critically reflecting on how science and technology might be co-created to serve as a valuable resource and tool, and when it might stand in the way of, supporting our work of transformative social change.

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