The Atlantic: Go Ahead, Mess with Texas Instruments

I wrote an article for The Atlantic on Texas Instruments graphing calculators as part of its Object Lessons series. Education, at its best, isn’t just concerned with convention but also with when and how conventions should be subverted. The article argues that some educational technologies are better at balancing these aims than others – e.g. the programming environment embedded in TI calculators allows them to balance convention and subversion in a way that other devices (e.g. iPads) don’t. Here’s an excerpt:

“Texas Instruments graphing calculators offer a much-needed reminder of the tremendous educational potential that lies latent in our most common objects. Though many devices enter our classrooms for different reasons — they are not neutral. Some are used to reinforce the authority of formal teaching; some engage students in the process of imaginative discovery. By balancing conventional and subversive academic possibilities, these latter objects show us the real potential of learning technologies. Not as sterile knowledge-delivery devices policed by authorized educators, but as boundary objects between endorsed educational utility and creative self-expression gone rogue.”

Read the full article, “Go Ahead, Mess with Texas Instruments” here.

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