This post is partially in memory of (Uncle) David Wilson, who would have turned 73 today.
When I worked as a technology coordinator in a primary school, my boss and I had to develop the “Acceptable Use Policy” for technology. I want to bring that idea to transportation. We need an “Appropriate Use Policy” for transportation technology. There’s no need to drive to the market if it’s only a half a mile away. In fact, a recent study found that
if the Midwesterners ran half of their short-distance errands by bike rather than by car, 1,100 deaths would be avoided each year, and $7 billion would be saved in reduced health-care costs. The trips were 2.5 miles one way; less than a 25-minute bike ride, the researchers figure.
The benefits were based on a presumed reduction in air pollution particulates and ozone, which increase the risk of heart attack, strokes, and asthma. They also factored in the health benefits of increased exercise, and applied that to the 31 million people living in the Upper Midwest.
The results were reported in an NPR post on their health blog. This gets to the point of using appropriate technology for a given task.
I started by dedicating this post to my uncle, because the last conversation I recall having with him revolved around the use of technology in the classroom. I was a first year teacher and he asked me “What technology do you use in the classroom?” Keep in mind he was a former professor of education at the University of Toronto (for his full set of titles see the end of the post) specializing in vocational education in the developing world. As an ignorant first year teacher just two months into the job, I smugly answered that we had computers — and before I could say anything else, if memory serves, he said, “That’s not technology” and walked away. I never spoke to him again and have pondered what on earth he considered technology. A pencil? For that is technology. It has gotten me to thinking that a pencil (or pen, refillable preferably) is a much more appropriate use of technology than a computer when you are merely writing something down. There’s a time and a place for certain technologies. Please be mindful and choose one that is appropriate for the task. If you only need to go a few blocks or miles, walk or ride your bike.
David N. Wilson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
Senior Research Specialist, UNEVOC-UNESCO International Centre, Bonn, Germany
Former President, World Council of Comparative Education Societies
Former President, International Society for Educational Planning
Comparative, International and Development Education Centre
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto