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LIFE / Kris Schwengel

Technology as a Tool

September 15, 1997

Kris Schwengel, 24

Los Angeles

As a fourth-grade teacher, I'm concerned that my profession isn't changing fast enough to keep up with the changes in society. These changes have already expanded the role of the teacher. Now we must also be advisor, family counselor, nurse and conflict manager, and our responsibilities in these areas will only increase in the future.

To meet these responsibilities, we must remedy the current lack of trust in educators and we must take the fullest advantage of technology. It's unfortunate that so much attention is being paid to the few bad teachers that are out there, and that most teachers won't even hug a crying child for fear of being sued. I don't have an answer for that, but I know that it's incredible for the child when the parents trust what I am doing.

I do, however, have a very clear vision of the role of technology in education. By technology, I don't mean abolishing pencil and paper in favor of a computer keyboard, I mean using computers to make learning more real and more immediate for my students. More importantly, I mean teaching students how to use the computer as a tool to discover the world for themselves--to learn on their own, and keep on learning. Our society is now so technologically enhanced that we must give our students the skills to access information in every way possible.

I also mean using technology to keep parents more involved in their children's education. In my vision of the ideal classroom, each class would maintain its own Web site. Parents could then log on to the site, view video clips and find out firsthand what lessons were presented that day. As a step toward that, I'm already sending parents activity reminders and comments on student performance via e-mail.

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