Today, September 12th, many people are waiting for the announcement from Apple that a new iPhone will be released. Twitter, blogs, and news accounts abound with stories about what the new iPhone will look like, what features it will have, and how we have to have it.
I have an iPhone. A lowly iPhone 4 - not even the iPhone 4s. I started with the original iPhone. Upgraded when I had the chance.
My iPhone - I love it. I use it. It carries my pictures, my music, and my contacts. It gives me instant access to information and ideas. When I'm lost, it offers guidance. When I'm confused, it offers answers. When I'm bored, it offers diversions. The iPhone seems indispensable.
And yet . . . it is just a piece of technology. A wonderful piece of technology to be sure. But still, in the end, just technology.
The iPhone doesn't solve problems; it provides me with tools to solve problems. The iPhone doesn't know the right questions to ask, I do.
The power of the iPhone is not in the iPhone, it is in the people who own and use the iPhone. Just because a person has an iPhone does not mean that they are going to be productive beyond measure. Just because a person has an iPhone does not mean that her life will suddenly transform into something it was not.
The iPhone is technology. Apple is wonderful at using the iPhone to create an illusion that your life would not be complete, that your life would not be meaningful, that your life would not be as productive if you did not own an iPhone. But the truth is, it is not the iPhone that makes a person's life complete or meaningful or productive.
It is the people themselves who make their life complete, meaningful, and productive. A person can have an iPhone and still be a mess. A person can have a full and complete life without an iPhone. The power is in the people who use the iPhone, not in the iPhone.
And that leads me to the classrooms in my district. The classrooms in my district are powerful not because of the classrooms, but because of the people in them.
We have classrooms and schools full of technology. We have computer labs, computer laptop carts, iPad carts, and graphing calculators. We use Twitter and Facebook. Our media centers have access to information from around the world.
But the power of our school district is not in the tools. The power of our school district is in our people. Just because we have technology does not mean that we are a great school district. We are a great school district because we have people who know how to use technology to help our students learn.
The best classrooms I visit are not the classrooms that use technology everyday. The best classrooms I visit are not the classrooms where technology is never used.
The best classrooms I visit are the classrooms where teachers connect with students, identify powerful learning goals, and help students understand what goes on in the classroom connects with their life outside of the classroom.
The iPhone 5 will premier today. The hype says it will transform the world.
That's not true. What transforms the world is what has always transformed the world - people.
Students are arriving in the classrooms in my district as I write this. My hope is that something will happen today to transform the life of a student. When it does it will not be the technology in the classroom that transforms them. It will be because a teacher used the tools that were available - a book, a computer, a discussion, a question - in a powerful and meaningful way to engage, excite, and encourage that student.
What does the arrival of the iPhone 5 have to do with education? It reminds me once again that it is not the technology that is transformative and powerful in classrooms - it is people!