I’m not a Luddite, but I do lean towards that philosophy when talking about “technology” in the classroom.
For those of you who either know me or have read this blog from time to time, you’ll know that I don’t really approve of computers for kids. While some might think this is about me “protecting” my job as a teacher, and it may be (I hadn’t really thought of it that way until I was typing this), the fact is, I don’t see this “tool” as being appropriate for teaching.
There, I said, it. A computer is a TOOL. It’s one of many. Like all tools, some are more suited for the task than others. However, I find that the current flow is that computers are the way to deliver interventions to struggling students, to remediate them, AND to excel them. This one tool does it all — it slices, it dices, it cooks, it cleans, it’s a miracle…. It’s a sham.
NO tool is everything to everyone in every situation. This includes a computer and it’s software (or its app). That we, as a society, are so hell-bent on having teachers PROVE they are DESERVING of their pay is insulting, but then to be that teacher and see how many people will roll over and play dead allowing some random computer program to “teach” their students is just mind-boggling. You WANT accountability, and then pawn off this MOST IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL GOAL onto a piece of furniture? That’s just crazy.
And all that opining aside, the fact is the students HATE it. We have kindergartners, who aren’t even LEGALLY REQUIRED TO ATTEND SCHOOL, forced to interact with computers for 100 minutes a week. A casual person might say, “Well, that’s only 20 minutes a day.” BUT… School schedules are complex monsters, and school supplies are limited, plus… well, there’s the cost of licenses so only x many kids can access a site at any one time. So, NO it’s not 20 minutes per day. It’s generally three 45 minute sessions per week. That’s just painful for everyone.
My students don’t really look forward to computer days. They ask if they can sign out and just read. They will do math or anything else. They would LOVE it if I could manage to get them outside for regular PE, but I can’t. I’m relying on brain breaks in class to get us up and moving. I try to fit one in every 45 minutes, but it’s not always possible. Yes, technology trumps outside time. Go ahead, ask where my day goes….
- 1500 contact minutes a week gets divided up mostly as…
- 125 technology
- 500 to 600 for English Language Arts
- 80 for supervising lunch because lunch is during my contact minutes
- 100 for music, 60 just for standard operating procedures, 300 for math
- 60 for library/girls’ & boys’ club
- 60 for assigning/reviewing homework
- 60 for transitions or breaks
- 150 for science or social studies
- leaving about 100 minutes left-over that tend to be eaten, no joke, by lost supplies, interruptions, melt-downs. Sometimes, though, we get PE
The long and short of this long-winded tirade is that kids really only want technology when they are playing games and it’s fun for them. Most only like school because it’s social. Seriously, they come to school to be with their friends. Therefore, this tool that makes them focus on a screen, tracks their time, and isolates them isn’t effective because… well, they don’t like it.
We would be well-served to remember that most connections are made through our emotions, not our intellect. Truthfully, what’s in it for us? This method… not much.