Technology and Agency (Critical Pedagogy post)

I’m going to go on a tangent for my critical pedagogy blog post, thanks to this video and interview of Henry Giroux dredging up considerations that I’ve been mulling over for the past few years. In this video, Giroux talks about the importance in education’s development of agency in children. In fact, he proclaims that the ultimate goal of education is the growth of agency, indicating that it might be the most important tool for children to develop – as I fully believe. Agency is what turns people into critical thinkers, leaders, the movers and shakers of the world. If you see a problem, agency is required to get up and change it. Agency is how progress happens.

Where my internal debate comes in, though, is the role of technology in enhancing agency. As Giroux addresses, technology gives children more power than they’ve ever had in developing their own agency. Almost every piece of knowledge that we have as a human race is available on the internet, and children have almost as much power as anyone else behind a computer to go get that knowledge. And they can do it autonomously.

However, not all knowledge is good to ingest, especially at a young age. As everyone knows, the worst of humanity is also available online. So I find myself debating how I would handle technology and specifically internet access if I had kids. If I could give them technology without social media, then I personally would feel less worried. But my feelings should not take precedence and practically speaking, this option might not be feasible. Social media is now the reality of the world, and we need to equip children to handle it and to build up their emotional intelligence in the face of our new reality.

Another concern of mine is the bias of content presented. This problem is worsening everyday, along with the ramifications it is having on …everything. Here, again, I think is an issue that is now embedded in current society, and so rather than trying to steer children away from bias, we might be obligated to expose them to it so that we can better educate them.

These issues also bring us back to the burgeoning importance of critical pedagogy, because the best way to combat the influence of bias and negativity faced by the next generations is critical thinking. Now more than ever, people need to know how to – and to – question what they hear. They need to recognize the psychological manipulation that can accompany education and learn to combat it. With problem-solving and processing skills fostered through strategies emphasized in critical pedagogy, I think we can help empower our next students to leverage technology while handling its consequences.