Thinking and Technology By
Dr. Martin Odudukudu, FRC
1. The purpose of technology is to enhance one's efforts and/or one's tools for achieving a goal; but in learning, considered as a goal, many teachers do not give due considerations to tools that students need in order to learn optimally. Many teachers deliver instructions without minding whether or not students perceptual, conceptual or/and thinking modes is appropriate to the instruction; they do not differentiate among these modes of learning and/or related technologies. For example, we use vcr and television (technologies) to show story actions, so that students might have coordinated and uninterrupted sense perception of the story; and, we use telescope (another technology) to enlarge features of microscopic organisms in biology laboratories for the same reason. We use these technologies because when we receive clear sense perceptions of objects, we are more likely to grasp related concepts; therefore, we encourage teachers to use technologies to help develop or/and enhance students' perceptual tools.
2. Using television and vcr to play Romeo and Juliet in a class is just the same as using telescope to magnify features of a bacterial for students in a biology class. Here, the technologies are intended to enhance students' perceptions of facts, and a teacher is said to use technology to enhance students' natural tool in the perceptions of facts and to facilitate instructional delivery by doing so. What is obvious here is that a sense perception is a mode of learning, for information has to be received through the sense; but once we receive information we have to process them and give them meaning. We also think empirically (reasoning) or conceptually (pure thinking) through the information we receive in order to ascribe meaningful representation to them. In other words, technologies that enhance perceptions are not the same as technologies that would enhance conception; a technology or a tool that enhances perceptions of facts may not be good enough to enhance conceptions of facts; sensing which must culminates in a perception is not the same as the thinking which culminates in a conception.
3. Thinking is a natural human technology, a process of choice in virtue of which one is as he or she is. In thinking we are either generating representations of attributes in virtue of which certain unknown elements become constituent parts of an occurrence or manipulating concept which is what elements become after they have been generated. Thinking makes us human; “I think, therefore, I am” according to xvi century philosopher, Descartes. Through thinking we develop better technologies; but when one uses one technology to develop another, as when one uses technology to enhance the self (a natural technology), we enter into gray areas regarding what is or is not thinking, or when a system is or is not a technology and what tasks correspond to what technology. If one reads a book on how to improve upon or develop oneself so that one can further improve upon or develop one's environment, where is the goal, technology or thinking; is it the book, the reader or the environment of one's concern? This may be difficult to determine, especially for those who take only physical devices or instruments as technology.
4. In this work, we do not restrict definition of technology to physical devices or tools. As a means, process, or system we go to in order to achieve goals, we also consider thinking being a technology. Thinking is dynamic; after achieving a goal for instance, we do not stay satisfied; an internal need wells up in us, nudging us, remind us that there is something more than simply remaining at one level of existence. The result of this nudging is that we think. Thinking needs order; where there is no order, thinking operates to impose (its will) upon it, in order to create order. Where there is chaos, thinking generates attributes and ascribes meaning to meaninglessness. Thinking reinforces itself; the more thinking achieves its goal, the more thinking is able to do what it does; that is, generates and determines its environment. Therefore, learning to enhance thinking is life-long learning, learning how to learn or critical thinking, and this requires a deliberate attention to its development.
5. Educators want students to think deliberately but many educators do not engage students to think deliberately. Therefore, many students do not think deliberately; students simply strive to do their best by looking up to other people as models and standards, but not to their capacities as thinking beings. Therefore, many people in general and students in particular do not learn to enjoy thinking; they believe that people are required to think only when they have problems. Some students do not even know that, as human beings, thinking is a gift. Occasionally, one breaks out of the mode and thinks deliberately, and this happens mostly through chance or luck, but not through a deliberate practice of the art.
6. One who thinks deliberately does not strive to achieve goals without relying upon the natural tools of thinking; rather, he develops and strives to become practiced in using the natural technologies of thinking. Technology here is a go-to process, and like everything else, it requires practice. Technology here include not just reasoning, but thinking which is a process in virtue of which one who is seemingly satisfied must continue to strive. Fortunately, thinking as a technology is the same thinking in virtue of which one determines a representation or ascribes meaning to meaninglessness. Without thinking, students may stay in class, put much effort into doing assigned work, but yet, make no headway in passing the State Tests. This is mostly because teachers and students could be doing the best they know how, but yet not addressing thinking, the most relevant learning skill that NY State standard is about.
7. Furthermore, the mere volumes of information that students need to handle in order to adequately address the State and standardized tests are so much that students simply need technologies. Students need to be practiced in using innovative Thinking Maps and Graphic Organizers to organize the mass of information they must handle or think about to achieve the progress that we desire for them. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to introduce these instructional technologies in the district and help our teacher learn how to integrate them with instructional delivery.
8. In this work, my proposed staff development plans is to engage teachers in doing the following: (a) discuss learning theories, especially theories that consider perceptions and conceptions as modes of learning and determine technologies that relate to these processes.
(b) Learn about the technologies of thinking maps and graphic organizers and how students in other places use them to enhance thinking and facilitate learning.
(c). Learn how to develop or at least modify/customize Thinking-maps and Graphic-organizers to address learning problems, and practice how to put these maps into use in our classrooms.
(d) Develop, customize and/or otherwise generate links to thinking Maps and Graphic Organizers and make them accessible to teachers.