Technology is not for escape and isolation. It is not for creating walls around yourself in a virtual learning cubicle. It is not for individualizing learning so much that you are the only one taking part in your growth. No, technology is for connection and creation. It is for coming together in a single space and sharing what you know, for manipulating things that can’t be manipulated in the real world and opening up possibilities.
I heard all of these things from a seemingly unlikely place yesterday. Katy Myers, the principal of Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School (currently in Year 0), took time from her rigorous planning to speak with me about the future she sees for technology within a Montessori. While some Montessori purists might shun technology in favor of only physical manipulatives, Katy embraces it as an extension of how her teachers differentiate for students. She knows that hands-on urban farming and collaboration with Google Docs are not mutually exclusive. She believes that student ownership for learning is not just a result of having engaged students with their “heads in the game”, but of meeting their exact learning needs in a way that adaptive content proves most useful. Her heart is in making sure that students can display and celebrate their work whether it is created by traditional or digital means. She is working on Hands, Heads, and Hearts.
We are better off as a district because she is.
Sometimes we get caught up in the seemingly incongruent paths that others take to student learning. Sometimes we place our own preconceived notions of what models work well together on innovative new solutions. In doing this, though, we place the same barriers and isolating factors that technology is blamed for doing. But this time, it is our own lack of imagination that is responsible for these walls. And just like Denver Montessori will not let tech become a divider within their school, we should not let the boxes we place on school models in our own heads keep us from seeing the true promise of convergence.
We should let our Hands do the good work, our Heads lead with logic and strategy, and our hearts inspire us to see beyond the Technology or School model. Hands, Heads, and Hearts.
One reader of this story was reminded of the 4H pledge, which I immediately understood: