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Reflections on the Proper Roles of Technology

God Almighty endowed us with the most superior mode of communication, the spoken word.  Despite all of our fascinating technological developments in the field, the spoken word remains the fastest and most efficient means of all communication.  For example, tell someone to "wait," a simple command of one syllable and three phonemes.  Now type your friend this command in an email and hit the "send" button.  How much longer did that take?  Now you'll have to hope that your friend understood the context and doesn't have any further questions about what you meant with your request, lol.  It's very obvious now why spoken language is superior - for a very complex and nuanced thing called context.

God the Master Planner of everything, and most wondrously of us, created the simplest and at the same time the most sophisticated of all communication systems.  It is as multi-layered combination of systems that coordinate for execution in microseconds.  For someone to immediately respond to your command to "wait," that person has to engage all of his or her senses and a multitude of other abilities in specific orders in an instant!  Instantly that person has utilized his physical senses, made observations about the speaker and perhaps the environment, gathered information from the context, made judgments about the speaker and context, formulated a plan and then acted on the plan.  And just think about all of marvelous voluntary and involuntary systems at work in your being to utter the the single response, "why?"

Machines simply can't compete with human beings when it comes to communication.  God's design is supreme and its only requirement is that we be present with one another.  Education is a form of directed communication, with specific goals and outcomes in mind.  It is an endless interplay of new ideas, new facultative growth, and new behaviors, just as much for the teacher as for the student.  Educators have always capitalized on the efficacy of speech in instruction.  Overuse of technology reduces speed as well as this marvelous and dynamic interplay of mental and bodily faculties.  I believe it is important for children to exercise all of their God-given faculties as often as they can.  Technology is truly amazing for certain things and it should be no wonder; God created us in His image, after all.  However it should be kept to its proper and secondary role in instruction.  

In my own experience, technology works well for some research, creative presentations, and business-oriented tasks. It is also helpful for learning about subjects for which there may not be a teacher.   For example, I may be great at Spanish, but I am not a song composer.  It is great to use instructional videos with Spanish songs to enhance or add dimension to a lesson occasionally.  Without a doubt there are important technological skills to learn for adulthood.  I would like to see technology used periodically but not daily.  In my own personal and professional experience, books and paper are superior learning materials for memory and mastery.  It's interesting that God instructed Bible authors to write, and not type!  Reading physical books and writing things down engage more faculties of the mind and physical body.  I firmly believe that learning with objects that you can hold in your hands and manipulate with your fingers create a deeper involvement with the subject you are trying to learn.  Using your hands to trace out every curve of every letter of text engages more aspects of the child for example, and helps solidify what was just learned.  It's like a form of acting out the new knowledge.  Especially since children are still growing and developing physically, anything that educators can do to have children use their bodies and practice coordination is very important.   Reading books and writing on paper help to increase focus and concentration for a young child.  They create spaces of quiet where a child can become centered and calm.  Regular practice with reading and writing lead to the development of important character traits like patient diligence and aim for excellence.  

Physical books are also their own record keepers, providing both you and your child a chronological account of learning.  With homeschooling materials, you will never have a question about what your child is learning or where your child is working in the sequence of lessons.  You can simply open to the pages your child has completed for the day, and refer to the text keys for additional explanation if necessary.  It will be easy to discuss with your child what he or she has learned for the day and you will never have to log into any computer to check your child's progress!