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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Is modern technology teaching our kids to be lazy?

Is modern technology teaching our kids to be lazy?

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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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Jennifer Olthoff's picture

I feel that there are way too many parents who let their children waste hours in front of the TV or playing video games. It's so frustrating. I do think students need to learn how to use the computer and that it can be a great way to teach certain things, but that doesn't make the basics obsolete. I think the same is true with calculators. I know most people can use a calculator for even the little math projects, but I went to a store the other day and the cash register didn't give them the amount of change and he couldn't figure it out. He had to go get a calculator. I was so saddened that this young mancouldn't do simple subtraction. I think there is a lot of computer skills kids need to learn that doesn't take they can't do off the computer and this is what I try to use it for or to make things more fun and reinforce something already taught.

Laura Quimby's picture

I believe today that students have to have the knowledge of using the technology in order to survive in today's world. Years ago, it was important for us to know how to do our basic skills because we did not have this technological advance equipment to help us. Our society relies heavily on computers and equipment to make our lives easier, but you have to have the skills and the know how to use the equipment. Our students are becoming more advance than we are and we need to appreciate this fact because they are evolving to survive in our society. I teach special education and it is nice to see technology like "Kindle" and smart boards. My students will appreciate the fact now material can be delivered in are kinesthetics. I am one who is not afraid to learn the new technology and embrace it for tomorrow, if knowing that my students will be able to survive int he world.

Jenee's picture

I think it goes back to the saying, "Working smarter not harder." Technology enables us to accomplish many tasks in a more efficient way. Businesses and industry are moving towards technology to get the job done. The education system often restricts and reprimands technology due to funding or misinformation. Netday Survey 2005 found 81% of students in grades 7-12 have email accounts, 75% have instant messenger, and 97% believe strongly technology is important in education (NetDay News, 2005). I think the key is to incorporate technology into education.

malcolm bellamy's picture
malcolm bellamy
Teaching and Learning Consultant in Southend, Essex, U.K.

Technology is a tool. Like all tools it is the use that is important. If it is combined with physical, kinesthetic, artistic and emotional activities then it is good, it is not a "one stop shop" but a powerful means for children to communicate, create and learn. I do not feel that it is making our children lazy unless it is allowed to do so.. which is why it must always be seen as part of the answer and not just the answer.

Jason Noble's picture

I wonder if long ago there were old bards who bemoaned the fact that the new generation couldn't memorize long passages of literature like they could in the past because this younger generation could simply use this new gizmo called a book to reference the parts that they wanted to remember. "What will happen when there is no book around?" I imagine them saying. "How will they access the information that they need if there are none of those new-fangled books available?"

Michelle Pittman's picture
Michelle Pittman
High School Speech and Debate, Texas

I see over 150 students each day for an entire semester in my Communication Applications class (speech). I look at two sides of the teaching puzzle. 1) Technology is the key to success in the workforce today. Students need to know how to do traditional things like appropriate writing using technology. They also need to know how to find quality sources of information on the web. However, handwriting is not a lost art. Students still need to learn basics skills through traditional means because they will need those too! Books are not yet antiquated, and still have vast amounts of information. My boss likes to be able to read my handwriting on reports. My professors in college made me do my math tests without a calculator, and we still have to know how to answer a telephone politely.

So are students lazy because of technology? Yes. Can we still teach them traditionally? Yes! Should we be teaching students to utilize all basic skills whether traditional or through technology? Absolutely! The world demands change, but has not forgotten tradition!

Lisa Rosa's picture

I don't agree with the suggestion that handwriting is a basic skill we have to teach furthermore. When do YOU write with a pencil today? Only if you have to do very short notices like a list for your purchase, or if you don't have a digital mobil device and you are not sitting in front of a computer. You wouldn't like to write with a pencil your essays if you don't have to. In any case NOT if you are able to tip your keyboard fast enough (which is only the fact if you are already trained by doing it often). Children of today and much more of tomorrow have such a divice or will have and must have it - by all means in learning contexts and later in working contexts.
Learning handwriting with a nice and fast cursive scripture is a process of several years of training and for many boys a torture. We need this precious time for other skills which we need much more actually twoday and even more tomorrow. In the gutenberg galaxy we taught our children in the process of learning literacy two scriptures: the block letters to be able to read (books) and the cursive to be able to write. It took long time, several years of training, because they had to learn parallel because learning literacy has to combining reading and writing. Now we have the possibility to teach literacy with the keyboard and we have to do so. We have studies which say that kids who are allowed to write with keyboard - even if the don't write exactly yet! - write much more and much longer texts and they are much more motivated to writing. And so they spend more time and learn much faster to write and read.
Handwriting with a nice and fast cursive will be out very soon and find its aesthetic niche like all outdated technologies do. Handwriting will be soon analoguous to the joy you have when you find yourself on a trekking tour and you are able to make fire with two sticks, some birchbark, and a lot of endurance. It will be for those who find their passion in it, but it is NOT the basic skill for all in a digital age.

Mark Senn's picture
Mark Senn
STEMschool Inc. (an Indiana non-profit) Founder/Engineer

Modern technology is teaching our kids to confuse information with knowledge.

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