Schools That Can was pleased and honored to welcome Shafeen Charania as our keynote speaker at the 2011 Forum in Cleveland. Formerly with Microsoft, his presentation focused on the technology in the schools. Currently most press touts new technology as innovative for the classroom, how new tools can better teach our children.

In classrooms across the country however, there is a resistance to new technology. Kids are growing up with access to smart phones and computers, and many adults are struggling to keep up and may want to keep these instruments out of the classroom altogether. To illustrate this point, he showed us some quotes from teachers magazines of the past.

From a Principal’s Publication (1815):

Students today depend on paper too much. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?

From Rural American Teacher (1928):

Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.

Shafeen pointed out, “The effect of technology on education is more dramatic than the impact of technology in education.” He supplied his own Q&A to help quell any technology fears and questions:

Q: How do we educate educators to teach youth responsible computer use?
A: opening our minds, switching roles, trusting

Q: What do teachers do in the face of today’s unimaginable technological advances?
A: embrace, incorporate, enjoy

Q: How do we educate students for leadership in issues of technology?
A: leadership is leadership

Q: What are appropriate boundaries?
A: values are values

Q: Are there boundaries, or has technology erased them?
A: yes

Although it may seem scary, even allowing a more technologically advance student to help demonstrate techniques to the teacher and other students can be a highly effective platform for learning. It’s most important to remember that when embracing technology, values, boundaries, and leadership are unscathed.