Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Use of Technology in Catholic Schools

August 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

An experienced educator recently sent me a link to this article in America Magazine:

Unplugged but Connected: The role of Catholic schools in the information age by Mike St. Thomas

It’s an analysis of how much and in what ways technology ought to be embraced by educators. This quote sums up what I took away:

Seven years of teaching high school English have taught me that one basic fact suffices to call into question this entire technocratic vision: Personal technology comes between student and teacher and destroys classroom focus in a way that notebooks or old-fashioned classroom high jinks never did. You would have a hard time finding teachers and students who will not acknowledge this state of affairs. And how could it be otherwise? Given access to the Internet, most adults, never mind children, have a hard time staying attentive to something they are not particularly enthusiastic about.

And this:

What is the goal of Catholic education in the midst of the flurry of screens and devices that bring the modern world to our fingertips? It is to keep the human person at the center of our enterprise. The world of information may be only a swipe away, but we should know better than to think it is the most important world. That honor goes to a world made of flesh and spirit, of encounter and conversation. That world must guide our schools, and everything else must follow from it.

I have some experience as an educator, but not enough to make my opinion worthwhile. However, I can speak as a software engineer and someone who fully embraces technology in my own learning by saying that I full heartedly agree with Mike St. Thomas’ analysis. If you want to focus and use technological devices at the same time, you must create your own barriers to do so… barriers that are constantly under attack by intentional assailants which are built into the design of the devices.

I recalled this article and the topic as I came across this article in the Catholic Courier:

Schools embrace new technology by Annette Jiménez

More area Catholic schools are expanding the use of personal technology devices in their curriculums to better prepare students for the future.

Siena Catholic Academy in Brighton decided to provide Google Chromebooks for incoming sixth-graders this fall…


All Saints Academy in Corning… decided to follow the recommendation of diocesan IT to purchase a set of Classmate Tablets, which are Windows-based tablets with built-in magnifying glasses and thermometers for science lessons.

Use of such apps as Dropbox allow students to share documents in group research projects, added Don Mills, principal of Immaculate Conception School in Ithaca. The school is moving toward a one-to-one, device-to-student model and has nearly reached that goal in its upper grades, he added.

Funding also is a challenge, she added, since Catholic schools don’t have access to the kinds of grants that are available to public schools. Kilbridge said Siena received seed money from the diocese…

At St. Joseph School in Auburn, staff members have developed a long-term technology plan incorporating iPads, Apple TV and projectors to provide one-to-one technology over the next five years, said principal Susan Nedza.

So what do you think? Should our Catholic schools try to once again mimic the public school system or should they take this technocratic push as a way to re-think why we educate our children and try to differentiate themselves?

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2 Responses to “Use of Technology in Catholic Schools”

  1. avatar Bernie says:

    I remember my father being somewhat upset when he found out the nuns/sisters would not let us use the latest writing instrument –ball point pens– in school. He couldn’t understand their resistance to new technology. Dip pens and ink bottles/wells were the gold standard for the sisters. Fountain pens were grudgingly accepted for test taking.

    Ball point pens would cause the ruin of civilization in the minds of the good sisters. Considering the present state of world affairs (and personal affairs), perhaps they were right.

    I’m not sure what relevance my comment has to the post but the memory popped into my head when I read the post.

    The caution is well made: “What is the goal of Catholic education in the midst of the flurry of screens and devices that bring the modern world to our fingertips? It is to keep the human person at the center of our enterprise.” Is it possible that dip pens did that better than ball point pens? It might be worth pondering that question as we grapple with the appropriateness of personal technology.


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