Vol. 9 You Can’t Break the Computer and Other Lies


A Reflection by Music Teacher, Michael Najar

I have always considered myself and early adopter of technology. I am not sure why I am an early adopter of tech. My family never owned a computer. We never even had cable television much less dial up internet. But I have always wanted to plug things in, turn it on, and break it. I didn't mean to break it, I just wanted to know what it could do and I sometimes get a little too excited. Just ask my students. Before I broke it, I tried to figure it out and realize its potential. I still like the feeling of unboxing. My Amazon Prime order history reflects that joy.

When I first began my teaching career in 1998, my school was able to afford a brand new Roland hard disk recorder in which I could make recordings of the choirs. It was a nice piece of hardware. It was clunky, heavy and with space for about 2 hours of audio. In 1998 I think it cost about $4500. In 2020 I can do all of that audio recording on my IPhone, order food, check sports scores and grade student work. And of course, so can everyone else.

There is really no such thing as being an early adopter. Those were years of luxury. Deciding on whether or not a cool new website, program, or piece of hardware would help with student engagement and learning is a thing of the past. Teachers are not early adopters anymore, we are survivors. There is technology that I have learned in the last 11 months that I never thought I would need. Why would a 23 year choral teacher, who enjoys renaissance a cappella while he runs, need to learn Adobe Premier video editing software? Let me rephrase that question in pandemic terms: how can a choral teacher NOT know how to use Adobe Premier video editing software?

If we want to survive and thrive that we must adopt new ways of teaching. And in the arts that means sharing what students have created or performed. I am no expert at video editing. In truth, I am not sure I want to be an expert at video editing. If I get to that level it will mean that this pandemic is dragging on and no one wants that (wear a mask)

I am grateful to PAUSD, our parents, and the broader Paly Community for supporting teachers during this time. Your efforts and contributions have allowed the teachers to learn so that the students can learn. The Visual and Performing Arts faculty are always up for a new challenge and before we end this year I think there will be a few more obstacles to overcome. But if I find a new website, program, or piece of hardware that can help our students learn, be engaged and allow them to create, then I am going to buy, learn it, and break it. Ok, I'll try not to break it. I just get so excited. Ask my students.