If you’ve followed me on Instagram for any length of time, you know that I like to utilize technology whenever possible, especially for homeschooling. I firmly believe that there is a place for technology in a Charlotte Mason homeschool, and I also think that any subject can be taught with Charlotte’s principles in mind.
Before I get too deep into WHY include technology, let me make some disclaimers:
I am not a Charlotte Mason expert and I do not take a purist approach.
I am referring to the “information age” that we all find ourselves living in when I say “technology”. STEM may be a good umbrella term to use. I use STEM, science, and technology all interchangeably in this series.
I define myself as a techno-realist as opposed to a techno-optimist or a techno-pessimist. I do not downplay or ignore the negative effects of technology, nor do I eschew all use of it. I also don’t think it’s the best thing to happen to humanity and that there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with it. It shapes us, and we shape it.
I don’t intend to put any words in Charlotte Mason’s mouth, but I do believe that she would have utilized some level of technology in her program. Would it replace books? Nope. Would she include movies as the main portion of her programs? Doubtful. What about computer science and programming? Personally, I think so. Charlotte was incredibly forward thinking. Her views on personhood and education shook up Victorian England. She was well-read and stayed current on the most pressing issues of her day. I would be highly disappointed if Charlotte had simply stuck her head into the sand and pretended that our modern age was to be avoided at all costs.
I am of the mindset that Charlotte Mason and STEM can coexist peacefully. I find nothing in Charlotte’s writings that indicate she was a Luddite, or that she would have refused to have anything to do with advancements in science. She would not have minimized science to maximize the humanities, nor would she maximize science to minimize the humanities. It’s all about balance, with living books still reigning supreme.
Technology does not need to be (and should not) be the realm of a certain person – the sciencey person, or the person who can drop a lot of cash into fun computer programs. Technology should be taught to everyone – the very basics of it, at the very least. The more everyone knows about technology, the less likely we will turn into technoslaves.
Finally, and this point is purely practical. Jobs are becoming more automated as the years roll on. It’s easier to teach a machine to do a job than it is to train a human. Artificial intelligence is improving. Technology is not going away, so how can we prepare our children for it? If our goal is to raise well-rounded people, we cannot simply pretend technology will go away or that our kids won’t be in contact with it. If we can teach them how to use technology, how to create technology, how to be safe with it – our kids will be ahead of the game. Even if they don’t become programmers or computer scientists; they can recognize a phishing scam or create a good looking website (or brochure or whatnot), then all the better for them.
It’s important to realize that technology is neutral. It does what it’s programmed to do. If the people making new technology grew up on a diet of true, good, and beautiful; what would new technology look like? What would it do?
Next up: Using Technology – Setting Ground Rules