This is a topic I could ramble on about for hours. Mainly because I believe it’s harming our youth more than it’s helping them. Bold statement, huh? Let me elaborate.
I recently was invited by a friend to be a guest on a panel in one of her classes. As fellow panelists and I observed the students filing in for class, I chuckled as each one almost immediately pulled out a laptop after settling into their seat. Not uncommon, of course.
As I continued to watch, I noticed that a few of them still had their eyes glued to their screens as my friend refreshed their memories as to why we were there that evening. Now yes, I realize that they could’ve been performing some type of academic task on their computers. However, I’m willing to bet that Mega Millions money I was hoping I was going to win that most of them were engulfed in other things outside of academia.
It’s a constant source of frustration for me – a person who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t teach.
I’m old school. I love paper and pencils. I love to sit and talk to people. I prefer to shop in stores as opposed to online. I don’t own a fancy watch that keeps track of how many steps I take in a day. I don’t get excited about the latest gadgets. My phone is over two years old. Recently, within the last few years, I started writing my articles directly on the computer to save time. I told you, I love my paper and pencils.
So, let’s get into my theory.
Yes, technology has made major strides for us as a nation, country and world. It’s helping save lives. It’s helping change lives. And it’s helping improve lives.
At the same time, it’s the thing we’ve become so reliant upon that we barely know how to function without it. Ever seen the reaction on Twitter when Facebook is offline for a few minutes? Or the reaction someone has when they realize they left their phone at home? Or how someone is almost willing to start a war when their Wi-Fi icon keeps spinning and won’t connect?
Our youth are growing up in this world where the norm has become to be so dependent on technology that we don’t know what to do without it. Our youth are lacking communication skills because their communication consists of direct messages, snaps and email. Our youth are lacking the capacity to think for their selves because they can Google every answer they need. Our youth are lacking cognitive skills because they use programs that help comprehend for them. Sure, your child is learning their ABCs but how much more effective would it be if they learned them by touching letters with their actual hands.
Studies have proven that hands on experience is still the best teacher and this applies to how our youth learn in the present time.
A few years ago, I was substituting in an elementary class when a student walked up to me and asked me the answer to a math question. Oh joy. Off the top of my head I had no clue what the answer was, but I knew how to figure it out. I pulled out my trusty pencil and paper and began to work out the problem. The same student was standing near me and asked what I was doing. With a shocked expression, I turned and asked had he ever seen this formula? His response was no. He only knew how to figure out the division problem by using a calculator.
Immediately I thought to myself, what if he had no calculator available? How would he learn?
And that is the major issue I have. Technology has its place in the world but so does your old school way of doing things. There is nothing wrong with teaching a child how to find answers to their questions using methods that’ll always be available to them even if technology isn’t.
Youth learn by doing. And I’m not just talking about academics. They learn life skills by interacting with one another. They learn problem solving skills by sitting down discussing their issues with one another. They learn teamwork skills by collaborating on projects.
All this takes place away from the cell phone and computers. Yes, the access and dependency on technology is going to increase which means its imperative that our youth know how to function without it. They need balance because one day they’re going to have to prove what they know without it.