Monday, August 9, 2010

3D Education

Within the last two weeks, I have taken my older daughter to see Eclipse in IMAX as well as Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, and The Last Airbender all in 3D.  You haven’t “lived” until you have seen vampires and werewolves in IMAX, and 3D makes animation more fun and people and events more real.  Having first seen Avatar in 2D and then subsequently in 3D, the difference for me is very much worth the difference in price.  And yet, of the five films I have mentioned above, 2 were excellent, two were good, and one was fair.  IMAX and 3D enhance but can’t overcome a weak story line.

Both my daughters now expect that, if we see a movie, we will look for the 3D version.  They have already looked at a demonstration of 3D TV and asked that we make this a priority purchase. My wife and I have responded in 3D that we are sticking with 2D TV for the foreseeable future. Technology has given my kids a very different growing up experience than I had.  On a car trip, in my youth, you would look to see how many different state license plates you could spot or you would sing songs or you would read. I list reading last here for a reason—reading would lead to car sickness for me which would lead to ….. .   Singing and license plates wouldn’t really carry the day for a long car trip and were supplemented by “how much longer until we get there” being asked more and more frequently.  Now, for any car trip over 2 hours, we take along the DS, the DVD player as well as the always present IPODs.  Yes, we also take along books, but on car rides this is hardly the first choice (and both my kids enjoy reading).  However, as the technology has increased, the complaining has decreased.  Another clear benefit of technology. On a recent “non-stop” ride back from Niagara Falls of over 600 miles and about nine hours, there were no complaints heard (except from the grownups).

We all know that technology has changed our lives but for many of us and especially our kids, technology has also changed our expectations and our patience level.  We expect more, and most certainly, we expect to be more entertained. And if the entertainment and the technological sizzle aren’t there, there is a real risk of being turned off by what we are looking at and/or doing.

In education, we constantly strive to harness the benefits of technology to enhance the quality of education.  Vastly more accessible and robust sources of information are clear examples of technology’s crucial benefits.  But reading, writing, thinking, reacting, and assimilating are critical on-going building blocks of a good education that are not fundamentally tied to technology.  But they are tied to patience so that learning has the time and the concentration to happen all through a person’s formal education and life. This is not an easy lesson but we all need to remember that if “let me entertain you” becomes our highest priority, we may have stripped away the essence of good education.

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