Technology Gives and Takes Away

Postman (1995, p 41) notes:

[Technologies] are Faustian bargains, giving and taking away, sometimes in equal measure, sometimes more in one way than the other.  It is strange—indeed, shocking—that with the twenty-first century so close on our heels, we can still talk of new technologies as if they were unmixed blessings, gifts, as it were, from the gods.  Don’t we all know what the combustion engine has done for us and against us?  What television is doing for us and against us?

All technologies come with trade-offs (AAAS, 2007; NAE, 2009).  Too often new technologies are adopted in schools thinking the pros and cons have been carefully weighed.  Yet, this weighing most often seems to target superficial monetary costs (Buckmiller & Kruse, 2011).

Preservice teachers must recognize the Faustian bargains technology presents to make more informed decisions regarding technology use in their classrooms.  Returning to Kruse’s (2012) titration example, teachers might ask, “What is gained from a digital simulation and what is lost?”  Only after wrestling with this question can an informed decision be made about whether to use a particular technology in the classroom.  Unfortunately, too often the only question asked is, “How can this technology be used?”


This post is from a paper I recently presented at the Association for Science Teacher Educators. For the full paper and citations, click here.

This entry was posted in Critical Examination of Technology, Nature of technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Technology Gives and Takes Away

  1. dwees says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I borrow a quote from you, and from Mr. Postman. Obviously, I’ll cite it appropriately.


  2. Pingback: Teaching as a dynamic activity

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