April 16, 2018

Dear Campus School Families,

Be patient with me - I am going to try to connect my first concert with work we
are doing on technology at the Campus School. First, the concert: it was way
back in 1976, when I saw David Bowie. I was 15 years old and excited beyond
words. I became a Bowie fan because my older brother had good taste and
slipped me a couple of Bowie albums to listen to. I was immediately entranced.
In the 1970s we had limited means to discover new music - perhaps a good
radio station, a couple of music magazines or, in my case, an older brother -
and this gave music some mystery and power. LPs became objects worthy of
veneration, the music and cover art conveying a point of view that was often
exotic, unique, and intriguing. And live shows, seeing the musician in the flesh,
were singular events that resonated for a very long time.

But in a world now saturated with music my relationship to it has changed. A
digital music file, as convenient as it is, just does not have the significance of
an LP; a live concert means something different when fellow concert-goers
allow their phones to mediate the experience for them; and social media can
tell you too much about a musician.

I realize I am in COM (cranky old man) territory here, but new technologies are
never neutral - they give and they take. Things are gained and lost. Right now a
committee of faculty and staff are reviewing our technology programs. We
want to think seriously about what we gain and potentially lose when we
embrace new technologies. This is especially important in a school for children
and with the growing awareness of the power of technology to shape people
and society. Fundamentally, we want to be critical consumers of technology,
ensuring that it serves learning and is not its substitute; we want to create
space for all the things that screens can squeeze out, like tactile and physical
encounters with the natural world; and we want to keep childhood enchanted -
replete with mystery, discovery, and authenticity.

Technology certainly has a role, often positive, to play in a school for children.
Our technology committee and faculty will figure out the right balance and
approach for our school. But we want to be mindful of new tools and how they
shape us - because they will - and do.
(And yes, the Bowie show was epic.)