Seymour Papert writing in The Children’s Machine in 1993:
Schooling is not a natural act. Quite the contrary: The institution of School, with its daily lesson plans, fixed curriculum, standardized tests, and other such paraphernalia tends constantly to reduce learning to a series of technical acts and the teacher to the role of technician. Of course, it never fully succeeds, for teachers resist the role of technician and bring warm, natural human relationships into classrooms. But what is important for thinking about the potential for megachange is that this situation places the teacher in a sense of tension between two poles: School tries to make the teacher into a technician; in most cases, a sense of self resists, though in many the teacher will have internalized the School’s concept of teaching. Each teacher is therefore somewhere along the continuum between technician and what I dare call a true teacher.The central issue of change in education is the tension between technicalizing and not technicalizing, and here the teacher occupies the fulcrum position.Not since the printing press has there been so great a surge in the potential to boost technicalized learning. But there is also another side: Paradoxically, the same technology has the potential to detechnicalize learning. Were this to happen, I would count it as a far larger change than the appearance on every desk of a computer programmed to lead the student through the paces of the same old curriculum. But it is not necessary to quibble about which change is more far-reaching. What is necessary is to recognize that the great issue in the future of education is whether technology will strengthen or undermine the technicalness of what has become the theoretical model, and to a large extent the reality of School. My paradoxical argument is that technology can support megachange in education as far-reaching as what we have seen in medicine, but it will do this through a process directly opposite to what has driven change in modern medicine. Medicine has changed by becoming more and more technical in its nature; in education, change will come by using technical means to shuck off the technical nature of School learning.”
If we’re not there yet, I think we’re very close to the inflection point on whether or not schools will become more or less “technical” due to technology. Unfortunately for kids, there’s more money to be made in “personalizing,” in leading the student through the paces of the curriculum rather than seeing technology as a way to enhance all kids’ freedom to learn. There are dozens of layers to all of this, obviously, but Papert’s articulation of the choice in front of us resonates deeply.