noun: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
- machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.
In our modern day life the word “technology” is generally accepted as the catch-all that refers to computer-based machines. It seems to include everything from desktop computers and tablets to phones, watches and next-generation eyewear. In fact, technology has a much broader meaning. It is anything and everything that applies science for practical purposes. By considering “technology” from this perspective, I think we can understand our way of living (and parenting) better and to a fuller extent.
Let me start with a story about a hammer. I wanted to hang a picture on the wall of my house. I had the framed picture and a nail and hook from which to hang it. But the hammer had mysteriously disappeared. I wondered where I would find it. Maybe my husband had put it down next to his project somewhere in our messy garage or my preschooler had decided it was his and put it away in the toy box. Either way I was feeling lazy and thought to myself, “I don’t really need a hammer, do I?”
I tried pushing the nail into the wall with the bed of my finger. It was “just” drywall after all...softish. As you might expect, the nail didn’t simply pierce the surface. Instead, the nailhead left a lovely round imprint on my thumb. Next, I tried a hard-covered book as a hammer substitute. Unfortunately swinging a book offers much less precision than the head of a hammer. And pressing it against the nail is only a little better than using my thumb. I imagined trying to improvise a hammer with a kitchen utensil but decided that the problem had been solved thousands of years ago. The tool I needed was a hammer.
The hammer is the perfect amalgamation of the science of levers and the need for banging on things with some degree of accuracy. It is old technology but it is technology none-the-less. By including old-school tools in our definition of technology, we might start seeing the world and our way of being in it a little differently.
Imagine how our world would be different without these technologies:
- Knives, scissors and ice skates are wedges.
- A washcloth uses friction to make cleaning easier.
- Anything with wheels - automobiles, bicycles, scooters, skateboard, and rollerskates - changes the way we get around.
- Books could be considered some of the first information technology - they were equipment where pictures and symbols could be kept for sharing ideas and information.
- Medicine applies science from many scientific fields like physiology, neurology, and chemistry.
As you can see from this small list (and probably imagine an even larger list of your own) technology surrounds us. It changes how we are able to work, what we can do for our play, and how we learn. What becomes imperative is how we choose the right technology for the task at hand.
I encourage you to take a look around yourself. Pay attention to how you use technology. And, for goodness sake, don’t try to use a book as a hammer.