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Is modern technology teaching our kids to be lazy?

Mary Scorpati

I teach high school remediation. All of my students are juniors, and must pass the state test in March. The spelling and writing skills of many of my students are extremely below grade level. Some have rarely used a dictionary and don't know what guide words are. They have so much knowledge about the computer, and use spell check to correct mistakes. Hand them a cell phone, and they can text message all day long. Give them a calculator and they can figure out any problem, but hand them a pencil and paper and they go blank.
I advocate for technology as a resource for learning, but it seems that this is the reason that so many students are unable to do things manually. I know that the basic skills should be mastered in elementary school, but my kids are juniors already and they haven't gotten there yet. Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions or comments are welcome.

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Fourth grade math, science, and social studies teacher from Savannah, GA

I agree with Kristen in that

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I agree with Kristen in that children are going to find the fastest way to complete an assignment and what better way to do it than using technology? We do the same as adults. I can't tell you how many times I have used the thesaurus on-line to find more exciting words for my own assignments in working on my Masters. I just don't believe we should allow the students to become dependent on using computers though. I hate that we have taken spelling out of our elementary school standards (4th and 5th grade that I know of) in GA. My students REALLY struggle with their spelling and it drives me when simple sight words are misspelled. Being that our students do have to complete a writing test on paper/pencil, I believe they should be taught and held accountable for neatly written essays with minor errors only. Why not use both paper/pencil and technology? I do! :)

I love technology and am

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I love technology and am enjoying learning along with my first grade students (although, being that they are "native" techies and I am an immigrant, many of their skills have already surpassed mine). One aspect I am concerned about is the loss of language/social skills I am observing with our students. Children are so wrapped up in their technological worlds with video and computer games, cell phones, chat lines and social networks, etc. that they are no longer able to effectively socialize with others face to face. I think that more than our basic academic skills are at risk!It would seem that our children have become so dependent on external stimulation that they no longer need to think for themselves. If this is lazy, then maybe this would be an appropriate term to use.

Technology is good in

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Technology is good in moderation just like anything else. The use of a dictionary is a dying art, but is that a bad thing? I'm not convinced. Technology is causing our society to change including the way we learn and I think that is OK.

Mathematics Teacher

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I believe modern technology enhances rather than impedes education. True, when in elementary school it is very important to learn how to read, write, and complete an arithmetic problem without the use of technology. These are basic skills which need to be learned by all. This is a very social world we live in. We need to learn how to communicate with others around us – face to face and in written communication as well. Before becoming a teacher, I worked in another field where files were kept on clients and notes were made on those files – most, if not all, handwritten. Proper spelling and grammar usage is highly important out in the "real world". There will be many times when our children will need to express themselves in writing - handwriting - and that skill needs to be learned in elementary school. As students move on in their educational careers, there comes a time when technology can and should be used to enhance learning – word processing programs so students can concentrate on the message they are trying to convey, graphing calculators to help students make mathematical connections between algebraic equations and real world graphs and charts, the internet to research a topic of interest or to make wiser consumer decisions, etc. The use of such technologies is not a sign of laziness, rather technology can be thought of as a tool one uses to help in the quest for gathering and analyzing information. Technology is here to stay – it's the present and the future. We need to make sure our nation's children keep up with the rest of the world.

I am a kindergarten teacher

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I am a kindergarten teacher and my students enjoy the use of technology. I believe at this age, technology is not making them lazy due to the limited time of usage in the class. However, for the older students, it could be a concern when it comes to spelling and writing. Technology is a big part of our lives, so our job is to incorporate the utilization of those skills in a positive and productive way.

I am a kindergarten teacher

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I am a kindergarten teacher and my students enjoy the use of technology. I believe at this age, technology is not making them lazy due to the limited time of usage in the class. However, for the older students, it could be a concern when it comes to spelling and writing. Technology is a big part of our lives, so our job is to incorporate the utilization of those skills in a positive and productive way.

tools

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"rather technology can be thought of as a tool one uses". (Francine, 12-1-09)Excellent observation.
Definition of technology is the use of tools. Tools are anything that is altered from it's natural state for a purpose, a use. (pointed stick, knife, flashlight, computer...)
Garden implements, guns, kitchen utensils, and all our other tools can be very versatile things (see Macgyver), helpful (indoor plumbing)or not so helpful (indoor plumbing + lost toys).
It's not a matter of if technology is helpful, it is a matter of if we will ever develop enough self discipline as a species/culture/profession to minimize the negative effects (such as mental dependence causing loss of skills) and maximize the positive (skill building with added dimensions and modes of learning and teaching).

socializing

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I disagree with Linda. Children and teens are not great at socializing and never have been. Developmentally, they are not quite equipped for it, yet. Even high school students don't do well compared to most adults in simply recognizing the emotion in a facial expression. It may be that texting and phones are actually helping to build communication skills. These modes of communication have fewer variables than those with facial expression and body language, so fewer 'choices' to pick from when deciphering meaning in someone's message. Teens also spend a great deal more time communicating, and with a greater number of people, then in previous generations. There is no denying that skills increase if good practice happens. As educators, we can teach communication skills to support practice of good habits. I doubt there is a more valuable thing we can do for our students, and the future of society, regardless of the subject we teach. (no, I am not a language arts teacher, I teach Tech Ed- sometimes referred to as 'shop')

High School Math Teacher from Phoenix, Oregon

I think that technology can

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I think that technology can be benefical to students but being a math teacher I do expect my students to write out all their work. I say to my students often that I can not see what buttons they pushed on their calculator. Students who struggle want my assistance but it is difficult to help them see their mistakes if there is no work shown. I use to be an advocate against using calculators in the lower level classes. Several years ago, I was over-ruled by my administartion that if the students don't know basic math by high school, they are not going to learn it. My son is in 5th grade and his teacher says that they can use a calculator sometimes for basic math but I as a parent tell him he has to do it all out the long way. Students need to understand the process and not just be able to push buttons on a calculator or find the answer in the computer. It seems like the students brains are not having to learn to [roblem solve as I did in school. Maybe students are learning how to problem solve differently.

(Sorry for the length.)

High School Math Teacher from Phoenix, Oregon

I think that technology can

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I think that technology can be benefical to students but being a math teacher I do expect my students to write out all their work. I say to my students often that I can not see what buttons they pushed on their calculator. Students who struggle want my assistance but it is difficult to help them see their mistakes if there is no work shown. I use to be an advocate against using calculators in the lower level classes. Several years ago, I was over-ruled by my administartion that if the students don't know basic math by high school, they are not going to learn it. My son is in 5th grade and his teacher says that they can use a calculator sometimes for basic math but I as a parent tell him he has to do it all out the long way. Students need to understand the process and not just be able to push buttons on a calculator or find the answer in the computer. It seems like the students brains are not having to learn to [roblem solve as I did in school. Maybe students are learning how to problem solve differently.

(Sorry for the length.)

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