, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 277-287

Technology’s Non-Neutrality: Past Lessons Can Help Guide Today’s Classrooms

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The benefits of classroom computers and associated technologies seem to be an accepted truism with those who question the benefits often dismissed as intractable Luddites. Educational technology has become big business both commercially and academically for today’s increasingly high-tech classrooms. Clearly, computers mark changes—permanent changes—in the way everyone lives, learns, works, and interacts globally. Ellul, Norman, and Postman, among others, have focused on the application of a technology and not on the “box” itself. All three have warned that although educators’ focus should be on the application, it is the characteristic of technology itself that shapes the future. History is replete with lessons and voices that support these warnings and provide a foundation for reasoned discussions of any technology’s Faustian bargains and its often unanticipated uses and consequences. The topic and open debate could not be more crucial or timeless, for how young minds, mental habits, and values are shaped in classrooms around the world affects everyone.