Column: New technologies fueled by imagination of kids like ours

Kathy O'Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.
Kathy O’Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

“Gram, why doesn’t your computer have an apple on it?”

That’s the question my five-year-old grandson asked me during his recent visit.

To say that I am not an “early adopter” of things electronic might be an understatement. However, my husband Jim is the opposite. His interest probably influenced our kids and, between him and them, I was dragged into the electronic world.

Now my calendar is electronic; I read board packets on my iPad mini; Skype or FaceTime with family, etc.

However, I found myself grumbling about all the negative aspects of our modern technological world: the 100 or so emails I receive a day (that does not include junk or spam!); the lack of civility in many of those emails(!); the trivial, even narcissistic nature of social media; the speed at which inaccurate and misleading information can be transmitted; the false sense of human connection; and so on.

Recently, though, my attitude has changed.  I have come to truly better focus on how technology improves both our personal and work-related lives.

Perhaps my change in attitude has to do with how our now retired Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has promoted the use of technology for evangelization. Perhaps it has to do with the Holy Spirit opening my eyes to all the good that comes from the positive use of technology.

However, I think in addition to these, I have come to realize that many of those who create our devices, software, and apps are doing just what we teach in Catholic schools. They are developing their God-given talents to the fullest. Furthermore, they are approaching the world with inquisitive minds by looking at situations and thinking, “I wonder if there could be a way to . . . ” Then they are persisting in their efforts to produce better and/or new ways of living in this world. They are the modern-day Ben Franklins and Thomas Edisons. It is this type of thinking and learning that we strive to foster in our students.

Can and is technology sometimes used for evil purposes? Yes. But if we teach our students well and model what we teach, our technology can bear great fruit.

In Catholic schools, we embrace technology for good. We are blessed to be able to teach our students in the way one principal explains, “Use technology to inspire, to motivate, to bring yourself and others closer to Christ.” Would that all of us heed that direction!

¡Vaya con Dios!

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