How to Bring Along Digital Teaching

Technologist Jaron Lanier warns about using new technologies that suck the wonder out of education-and human instruction.

It's rare to see a technologist—much less one with the profile of Jaron Lanier—warning about the misuse of technology, but, in an essay, appearing in this past weekend's New York Times Magazine, that's just what Lanier did. The thrust of his argument: education technology is creeping into the classroom, but we have to keep learning from becoming too algorithmic and keep the brain thinking creatively.

Lanier's father began teaching sixth-grade math in middle age. And, in his days, there were no standardized tests that he needed to prepare his students for—thus he was able to eschew a textbook he found riddled with mistakes in favor of teaching his students math via the building of a spaceship. But, today, the specter of the data-driven education system would make it very difficult for Lanier's father to teach a class in that manner.

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