What could happen if we suddenly do not have our familiar resources
I recently watched a Japanese drama called, "Jin." It is about a brain surgeon named Minakata Jin living in Tokyo, who was suddenly transported to the end of Edo period (140 years or so ago). I will not talk about the dramatic happenings and how it all started and ended since some of you might be interested in watching it. However, I would like to highlight his effort to make use of his knowledge and skills without modern medical technology and medicine. There, he started with feeling helpless to see people dying from diseases and injuries that are no longer considered deadly in our time. In his efforts to practice his medicine, he learns (or tries to remember from his textbook knowledge) to make a common drug from scratch, to get help from people with other skills to make tools for surgery, and to combine oriental medicine for various treatments. It was quite fascinating to watch how they depicted this process and how they morphed the modern medical apparatus into something crafted by traditional artisans.
Now, should we take away our smart phones and computers in order to understand and appreciate them better? Putting us in such situations might help us understand better not only about the benefits of technology but also about the things that we forget to appreciate, similar to how Minakata Jin deeply experienced by being throw into the situation. So, what happens when we do not have technology that we are familiar with? I thought about few and you might like to add more:
1. You depend more on each other: These days, we "google" if we have questions, and Wikipedia probably has answer for it. However, I ask Sarah (Davis) if I do not have an access to Internet. ;-) Minakata sensei was also depending on people of the time to do what he was able to do alone with modern tools and medicine.
2. Your passion and support from others matter more: In our project, we simulated tectonic plate movements using Jello and let all the students have experience of pushing two Jello slabs. It might be easier to do it by one mouse-click computer simulation, but it was much more meaningful to experience it with Jello. Our passion for "Jello" needed support from teachers and a corner of the staff lounge's refrigerator. Jin's passion for curing people moved other and needed support from the people who could provide knowledge, time and efforts.
The list of mine goes on as below, which I have decided to let you find examples and a connection with "Jin" (if you agree with them):
3. You may need to give up certain things
4. You may need to make a detour and end up finding something interesting on the way
5. You invent other ways to do things
6. You are likely to listen to others more
In our project of designing games with learners, our design workshops involved lots of activities with and without technology. In retrospect, it was iterations of exploring how our ideas could become hands-on activities, how these hands-on's could turn into game, and how certain activities might be more meaningful in certain ways. In our efforts to design and use learning technologies in the classroom, I feel that we probably need to step back and think about how we might create our wished-for interactions with innovative technology in the existing setting without the technology. I say this because Minakata Jin might disappear from the Edo period but his tried efforts for the advancement of medicine of that time would remain with it. We may also need to think about what can remain in the schools and with teachers if we stop our school-based research someday.
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