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A Savage Defense of Technology
Samuel Savage, Deerfield Academy Language Teacher
June 4, 2013

Over the past year, the Language Department, under the leadership of Ms. Invernizzi and with the patient support of Mr. Taft, has engaged in an incentive to incorporate technology into our curricula. Language teachers have grown accustomed to iPads and software solutions which enhance the teaching and learning that takes place in the Kendall Classroom Building.

These last several months have been a period of incredible professional growth for me as I have engaged with colleagues in rethinking what is possible in a Deerfield classroom.

It is tempting to think of technology simply as gadgetry, as all flash and no substance, but I have learned that technology can be a powerful medium through which we consume information, curate our academic lives and create meaningful content for our curriculum.

Moreover, working together with students and colleagues to explore the potential for using technology to enhance our classes has helped me redefine the rationale for and benefits of collaboration. In our department and in my classes, students and teachers take risks together. We have failed and succeeded together. We are learning together.

The Digital Age has ushered in a free-for-all in terms of the availability of information as well as a myriad of ways to interact with that information.

By working together, as teachers and students, towards the common goals of our classes, we are learning how to participate in this world, harnessing its power and mitigating its risks while striving towards the same fundamental goals of teaching and learning that we all cherish.

In fact, my explorations of technology have only affirmed my core beliefs about my profession. Exploring a new and radically dynamic realm with both students and colleagues brings with it a sense of adventure that can in turn infuse our daily work with the content of our curriculum.

My experience this year with my Latin 200 class, one of the iPad Pilot Program classes, has been an essential proving ground for me in terms of the potential for integrating technology into the work we do together.

Reading the Res Gestae Divi Augusti with the Latin 200 class has turned into a far more critical and rich experience because we are collaborating together to write an eBook.

We have thoughtful discussions about Augustus’ reign that are woven into conversations about the nature of the information we consume and about how we can create content that demonstrates our many-layered understanding of this ancient text.

We are attempting to create an interactive resource that makes a coherent argument for mastery of the text, and we are all partners and stakeholders in this endeavor. As the year draws to a close, I am absolutely convinced that the integration of technology into the curriculum of this class has yielded deeper and more meaningful reflection: not only on Roman history and culture, but also on the nature of how we consume, curate and share information.

We have integrated the invaluable lessons rooted in Classical texts and history with meaningful explorations of how the information age and mobile technologies might be changing the very nature of who we are, what we know and how we interact in the world.

I, for one, am eager to imagine how we at Deerfield might forge a new path that reconciles our rapidly-changing mobile world of free information with our cherished traditions of reflection, deep thinking and strong relationships inside and outside of the classroom.

I know I am not alone in feeling excited about what the future holds for us. Let’s work together to innovate, integrate and steward our heritage in the information age.