From the Principal

‘Smart phones are dangerous, like marriage and music and fine cuisine – or anything else that become an idol. They are also very useful, like guns and razor blades and medication – or lots of other things that can ruin your life . . .’

These are the first few lines of a book I read during the Christmas holidays, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, by Tony Reinke.

Tony is a Christian writer and self professed “iPhone addict and techno junkie”. Educated in business, journalism and liberal arts, Tony takes the reader through a Biblical worldview of the multitude of areas of life that technology and specifically smart phones impact and shape our lives.

I found this read both informative and challenging, both personally and as the Principal of a school, which strives to use, and to teach our students to use technology wisely and safely. Our staff are working to embed technology into lessons so that they can be more engaging and effective. We have entered the first year of our BYOD for Learning program with students in Years 5, 7 and 11 being required to bring a device to school for their everyday lessons. As a school, we cannot hide that technology can and must be an integral aspect of 21st Century learning.

What I enjoyed about Tony’s book was that it provides a thoughtful analysis of the changes that digital technology brings to our society, homes and classrooms. It is not a book of doom and gloom, rather, he examines and makes clear the pitfalls, and suggests approaches to limit them. In essence, he argues that digital technology is a gift of God but we must be alert to and resist the danger of letting this gift become our master.

Here are the 12 ways Tony Reinke has identified and I’ve added a brief summary:

  1. We are addicted to distraction – chasing the new and the myth of multitasking makes us feel busy and productive but actually has the opposite result.
  2. We ignore our flesh and blood – patterns of technology use can limit personal interactions – at home as individuals retreat into the online world.
  3. We crave immediate approval – the crippling effect of maintaining a current and positive social media profile.
  4. We lose our literacy – screens don’t directly reduce literacy but they do train us to scan text rather than reading deeply.
  5. We feed on the produced – our technology diet is filled with what others produce and we lose track of the ‘authentic’ andmiss opportunities to live our own lives.
  6. We become what we ‘like’ – our social media feeds can mislead us and we stop being honest with ourselves, rather our God created image can become digital reflections on glossy screens.
  7. We get lonely – all together online and alone. Technology can provide a portable shield and we lose face-to-face trust.
  8. We get comfortable with our secret vices – isolated use of technology provides increased opportunity for apparent anonymity to indulge in harmful practices.
  9. We lose meaning – beware overlooking wisdom and seeking ‘junkfood for the soul’.
  10. We fear missing out – FOMO is an expression of status anxiety and disconnection anxiety (‘I connect therefore I am’).
  11. We become harsh with each other – the online environment provides the opportunity to say things in ways that they would never utter face to face. These sorts of comments are far more public and permanent than ever before.
  12. We lose our place in time – the impact of distraction doesn’t just steal our time but can disorient our eternal perspective.

So what does this mean for a school committed to equipping our students to use technology well?

We are taking steps to adopt and embed the eSmart framework for all our students as they utilise technology. This framework is an extensive program that will give students a wide set of skills to know and understand how to use technology well.

We are launching the start of this program with an evening information seminar on Thursday the 22nd February. We are hosting this evening with Susan McClean, a highly experienced communicator and expert on cyber safety for schools and parents. I ask you to seriously consider my invitation to attend this evening. Not only as it will be a rare opportunity to hear such a high profile speaker at William Carey but because it is vital that the school and families partner in guiding our students, your children, in the development of healthy practices as safe and wise users of digital technology.

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

Keith McMullen,
Principal