Technology: My Love-Hate Relationship

14 01 2012

My mom hated snakes!  Every time she saw one, she would run screaming and shouting (which was something to see from a woman with such a reserved nature).  As a result, I am terrified of snakes, my brother is terrified of snakes, and my children also fear the scaly leg-less creatures.

I began my love-hate relationship with technology during my early teenage years.  I remember sitting in a stuffy computer lab on the second floor of my high school writing ‘programming code’ that looked something like: “If line3+line4= 12, then goto line 5“.  Although I didn’t truly understand the importance of the beginning of the computer age, I thought it was exciting and new.  My confidence grew, and I wanted my own computer.  A new LOVE was formed!

Years later, I owned my first PC.  A white IBM computer where everything appeared in glowing green print on an ever-flickering blue screen.  Overly confident with my ‘limited’ knowledge, I began to load new software onto my precious device.  Floppy disk after floppy disk, I installed software.  I loved computers…. right up until a program failed to install properly.  That was when the panic hit.  I began to frantically click “uninstall” buttons trying to remove all of the corrupted files from my precious hard drive.  All went well, until, I accidentally deleted a crucial part of my start-up operating system.  That was when my fear of technology began…the hate and mistrust started to seep into the relationship.

And yet, I sojourned on, still loving technology although now a little more wary of it.  A few years later, while taking a programming class at University, my roommate and I struggled to complete a programming assignment – using BASIC.  After a long sleepless night, we submitted our separate assignments.  A few weeks later, we were both almost expelled for academic dishonesty. We had collaborated to solve a challenging problem, and yet this was seen as a lack of integrity.  It’s strange the way the digital world has evolved to expect collaboration, sharing, and co-creating.

Year after year, story after story, experience after experience.  It seemed that the more confident I became with technology, the more frequently I ran into difficulties.  I once re-formatted my report card program and installed blank templates on top of my existing data, I’ve frequently saved ‘new and blank’ files in place of existing and valuable files, lost years worth of precious family photos when a home computer gave up the ghost, and most recently lost hours of work on my latest manuscript when my computer decided to “clean itself”.  I’ve made mistakes, and at times, my technology has failed me.

And yet I still love these devices that make my life both simultaneously better and worse.  In one breath, I’m eager to share something my students have learned using a new tool, app or device, and in the other, I’m wondering “where is the volume button on this silly device?”. 

I am always amazed that my PLN consists of teachers who span the country and even the globe.  It astounds me that my editor and publisher collaborate with me through the use of on-line tools.  I’m always awed by the sharing and support that is available from friends I have never met: friends I would not know if I stood behind them in a grocery line – and yet, they have virtually opened their classrooms to me.  Technology makes my life easier, it makes it possible to do innovative new things, to engage students like never before.  It allows every voice to be heard, it allows me to connect, communicate, share, question.  It is the single most powerful tool in my classroom and my life.

…and yet, I continue to have a deep-seeded fear of it.  I remember the times it has failed me or I have made costly mistakes. 

However, when I put devices in the hands of my students or my own children, they are completely fearless.  They click, they explore, they question, they discover.  Fearless!  Worry-free!  They have none of the limitations that make up my techno-baggage.  And that is why I continue to push through my anxieties, my frustrations, my limitations and learn along-side my students.  I do not want to project my techno-anxieties on them. I want them to be free to push buttons and see what happens.  To explore, to try new things, to succeed, overcome their own challenges and to learn.

The technology of today, is not the technology I grew up with.  It is true that I will continue to make mistakes and technology will at times fail.  But, this love-hate relationship that started so long ago, will continue to thrive.  I will continue to take risks, to try new things, to fail, but ultimately to succeed.  I have learned that when working with technology, it’s not about knowing the answers.  It is about being willing to take risks, to be innovative and to try new things.  It’s about exploring, learning and unfortunately yes, at times overcoming failures.  It’s about learning how to do things in creative ways, to collaborate with new people, to share and access information…. and to remember to ALWAYS back up your important files!  I will continue my love-hate relationship.  And through it all, I will promise not to project my fears onto my youngsters – because there is no need to be afraid of technology…. or snakes!

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2 responses

15 01 2012
Royan Lee

I love how you’ve captured the sentiments of so many fellow educators in this post. My mother also instilled a fear of snakes in me because of the experiences with them in the rice fields of Korea. Technology is only going to change at a faster and crazier rate, so I’m glad you’re taking that vow;)

15 01 2012
Lisa Donohue

Thanks Royan for adding your thoughts. I love what you tell kids: “Just push buttons and see what happens”.

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