Conceptualizing Technological Literacy
Technological Literacy as a Creative Process of Becoming Other
John R. Dakers
Samuel Butler offers a somewhat dystopic view of Victorian society in his now famous satire, Erewhon, published in 1872. In it, he tells the story of a fictitious country where the strange inhabitants have formed a society that forbids the use of modern technology (only old, established, and nonthreatening technology is allowed). This society actively suppresses any expression of originality, experimentation, or creativity. It further contends that individual scholarship can only ever be made manifest in a curriculum that develops proficiency in the study of what is referred to as “unreason and hypothetics.” Indeed, a venerable Erewhonian professor of worldly wisdom states that “it is not our business to help students to think for themselves. Surely that is the very last thing which one who wishes them well should encourage them to do. Our duty is to ensure that they shall think as we do, or at any rate, as we hold” (189).
Despite the superb efforts of many of my colleagues from around the world to challenge this perspective, I believe that technology education, in its present incarnation, for the most part, fits rather neatly into Erewhonian culture. In this chapter, I want to explore a completely new alternative for the delivery of technology education; an alternative that will focus exclusively on the development of technological literacy. In so doing, I hope to promote (provoke) some discussion about alternative pathways, as well as alternative potentialities that we might consider, or indeed discover.
Drawing primarily on the work of Gilles Deleuze, a French poststructuralist philosopher who incidentally was influenced by Butler’s Erewhon, I shall
J.R. Dakers (ed.), New Frontiers in Technological Literacy © John R. Dakers 2014
explore the concept of “becoming technologically literate.” This reflection differs from the many other important questions frequently asked about technology education. Rather than explore technology education as something homogeneous, I will instead approach the subject from a heterogeneous perspective. In so doing, I will deconstruct the notion of technology education as a distinct and objective subject domain that studies the given technologies and techniques that apply to the known world that we, as human beings, have constructed for ourselves. Instead, I will reconstruct the world as one made up of multiple dimensions and perspectives, one distinct from static objective realities. This will represent a progressive and radical departure from the world of education as elucidated in cultures similar to Erewhon.