Saturday, July 7, 2012

Technology, Art, and Social Justice- The Face of Integration

Photo from Akhila's Blog
I usually focus of the problems of integration teacher quality etc. But at the heart of what we do as educators we should always ask ourselves- who are we leaving behind? This is especially important in the digital age. Our ability to focus on channels, devices, and technologies can obscure the fact that not everyone has critical access to technology, media, and the arts. Not seeing our audience obscures the fact that it is too often just like us!

I am using the term critical access in the same way the Bob Calfee used critical literacy two decades ago. The idea is that physical access to devices and networks is not enough. Instead we have to think about ways to encourage the development of media skills and the participation that comes with them.
The ever present focus on "basic skills" for all students (see world literacy summit video) practically guarantee that both nationally and internationally students who are behind will find themselves progressively lagging. What are we doing to make sure that all students are getting critical access to technology? That they have the skills to engage with media? I believe that the solution is making sure that all schools provide critical access and that we do not assume that students, just because they were born in what we think of as the digital age, posses critical access to technology, media, and the arts. 

My cousin Amit Trainin is an illustrator, graphic designer and currently the head of the visual Arts Dept. at Minshar Art School. Seeing the recent graduate exhibition strengthened in me the notion that arts, media and technology are intertwined and are at the very core of our everyday life. People can choose to live outside the digital, artistic world but they can do so only if they first have critical access that allows them to make such a choice.

So when I focus on technology and the arts I put an emphasis on access, not just to the physical (though it is necessary) but also the skills that lead to Critical Access. As teachers it is what we all must do!

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