OPINION: Are we blindly assuming that Technology in Education is a Good Idea?

BY SIMON CRANE, HEADMASTER AT WOODRIDGE COLLEGE AND PREPARATORY SCHOOL - MAY 30, 2016

Perhaps, we shouldn't embrace technology wholesale!

I am going to throw out a thought. I am not saying that I am right. But I am going to throw it out to you anyway.

Schools are running hard towards a finish-line that includes the overwhelming use of technology in the classroom as an academic mechanism and foundation. I am going to suggest that a good school should possibly run as hard as possible in the opposite direction.

Why?

Children spend an inordinate amount of time on screens, communicating with each other and looking things up on the Internet. They know a good deal more about our cellphones and tablets than we do. Ask yourself this question. Do you have to limit your child's screen-time at home? My guess is the answer to that question is, "Yes!"

I've often said that if we as adults have heard of a social media platform, then the youngsters that surround us have already left that base for somewhere else. They are many steps ahead of us and I believe that we are a lot further behind them than we like to think.

Interpersonal communication is becoming something we do less and less. We don't meet as much as we email. We don't talk as much as we voice note. The children in our care need to learn skills that will enable them in the future and it is a future which we all agree will be very different from the one we might predict.

Good schools need to teach skills that will be applicable in a very uncertain world. We need to train our children to be able to communicate in person, to speak with confidence, to have an opinion and to be able to stand up and back that opinion with confidence. They will need to work independently and to be able to function as a member of a team. These are skills that will undoubtedly be of value in the uncertainty that lies ahead.

In order to be prepared for a job market ten years from now, we need to teach children skills that will most certainly be needed in ten years' time. In 2009  you could not buy an iPad. A tablet was something you took when you were unwell. Just look at us now. Seven years later, we are riddled with devices. Where will we be seven years from now?

In school we have a captive audience for six hours of academic time every day.

Perhaps we should be thinking contrary to everyone else.

Perhaps we should make those six hours of class-time device-free.

Perhaps that is the only time in the day when we can protect our boundaries and ensure that children are not surrounded by a device and encased in wi-fi.

Perhaps for those six hours of academic time, we are missing a trick.

Perhaps we should be using that time to teach interpersonal skills, skills of communication and skills that will be universally needed in the future.

Let's not just assume that technology is right and good.

Let's at least enter into a debate about this before we rush wholesale into a future that we don't understand.

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