Of all the technology developed during the world's human history, 80 percent has come during the past 20 years. So today's students need special training to help them control their future in a rapidly changing world - and to avoid becoming "technopeasants."
During a Deseret News "Newspapers in Education" seminar Saturday, teachers learned ways of doing just that, helping their students keep up with new technology, which was defined as "knowledge that expands human potential."Besides lectures, teachers received tours of the high-tech National Semiconductor computer plant in West Jordan and the Hercules plant in Magna. Afterward, they received free newspapers to keep up with current events and technological advances and to help in their teaching.
Jerry Balistreri, Utah state specialist for technology education, gave educators an overview of the need to help students gain some non-traditional skills to help them keep up with changing technology.
-Scientific and technical information now increases 13 percent a year, which means it doubles every five years. "That means a student in ninth grade now will have the base of scientific knowledge double on him by the time he graduates high school, and double again by the time he finishes college," Balistreri said.
-That rate of increase could soon jump to perhaps 40 percent per year because of new, more powerful information systems and an increasing population of scientists. That means data will double every 20 months.
-Already, between 6,000 and 7,000 scientific articles are written daily.
Balistreri told teachers that their challenge is to help students avoid being "technopeasants."
"Who or what is a technopeasant? You are, in all probability. Technocrats have labeled you this because: a) You're overwhelmed by what's going on in the various new fields of technology, and b) By being overwhelmed, you remain ignorant and too uninformed to have any say in your future. You are therefore a peasant. The nature and quality of your life is increasingly determined for you by others - those in the know - the technocrats," Balistreri quoted from the book, "The Technopeasant Survival Manual."
For students to avoid such a fate, he said, they must gain an ability to cope with change; to solve problems through higher-order thinking skills; to understand past, current and emerging technologies; to understand ethical issues related to new technologies; and to eagerly participate in controlling their own destinies.
Teachers were given a wide range of classroom projects to help students gain those skills, and obtain "techonological literacy" in such new areas as robotics, satellite communication, computers and lasers.
The "Newspapers in Education" seminars are part of Deseret News programs to increase reading skills among youth and to encourage use of newspapers in the classroom.