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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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Bridgett Roberson's picture

I think technology is both useful in the classroom and causiing students to be lazy.

I teach 7th grade Math and I use technology daily. I love using my class projector to display warm ups, notes, power points and other assignments. I also use various computer programs for learning, such as jeopardy and response clicking systems. I use technology to engage my students at their level and to make learning Math a little more enjoyable. My students use technology to complete projects, to research various math and science careers, to research future colleges, to seek homework help.

Our students' world today is technology driven. So, in order to compete in this global society they need to be computer savvy. As educators, I feel need to find a good balance between technology and manual student learning in o trder to engage our students and prepare them for this global society. Although, I teach Math, I do not allow calculators in my classroom for the first 6 months of school. I have seen how calculators have hindered students learning and caused laziness when a student can't multipy 2 x 3 without a calculator. So far, I have balanced technology use with manual thinking.

Diana's picture
Fourth Grade Teacher From Brooklyn, NY

I totally agree with teaching students the long way first before indulging them with short cuts. You may not realize this now, but a lot of the students push this mentality into everyday life. Really and truly quick doesn't necessarily means right.

I find my students using short cuts in math while preparing for the state exam. I had to discontinue this behavior. The state exam is not testing how fast, but how accurate your answers are. Technology adds to this problem. Students feel they do not need to rely on dictionaries and thesauruses for writing. They don't know how to show their work in math because the calculator does all the work. Don't forget the speed dial on cell phones. These new inventions definitely handicaps our children. We need to take a stand and teach our kids the correct way of completing simple tasks as well as the challenging ones.

Chris Wyland's picture

I tend to lean towards technology being a new means of expressing ones thoughts as they process and learn. In this modern age many of the higher level tests are given completely on computers. I feel that if one of our goals as educators is to prepare students for the world around them learning to use technology is imperative. For almost any job these days people come in contact with technology in some regard and our students need to be comfortable with and know how to handle this.

I also believe that students need to be resourceful and ready for whatever circumstances come their way. There are many times when we are without a computer to tell us where to go our how to spell something and we need to know how to answer those questions for ourselves. As a teacher I feel it is important to select those skills that are imperative that the students learn as back up for a technology-less situation along with learning the downfall of some technology situations (such as spell check mistakes). Technology is a must and students must learn how to use it effectively to help improve their lives and the lives of others.

I would like to touch on the book suggestion by Sarah and suggest that this book be used as a warning of what we must do as educators to keep technology from stupefying out students.

Altheria Charles's picture

Speaking from a former teacher who is getting back into the field, I agree. Children these days have become lazy due to the various technological options. Even though we also had video games, we didn't have to options they have. My mother had to literally threaten me to make me come in the house at night. Now a days, you have to threaten your children to make them go outside. Parents are to blame as well, they are allowing children not to go outside and get their exercise. If we as parents realize that XBOX and WII are hurting our kids more than helping; then technology may not be the reason our kids are so lazy.

JordonT's picture

A favorite slogan of mine is "work smarter, not harder". This could be translated into laziness as the discussion title hints. I must respectfully disagree, however, because efficiency and specific know how are seldom faulted. I'm a huge proponent of technology in the classroom. In fact without it, I wouldn't have a job! That's because my classroom is a computer, as I teach high school digital photography for a cyber school. Talk about technology overload! I do see an argument for learning the basics though. A strong base provides a strong future as technology is added and creates a more productive and efficient learner. Of course it is hard to be completely objective as I (and I'm sure many of you) haven't been through the school system recently enough to be completely immersed in the technological landscape that is so prevalent today. The standards have definitely changed though, and for good reason. The technological skills utilized in doing school work, may become more important to a student's career in the future than being able to do a math problem on paper (I'm a prime example of this!). The school and the teacher must evolve with the technology as well. We as educators must understand what our students use, and become proficient as well.

Aaron's picture

This is one of the biggest problems in school today...especially for grades 4 and up. As a young teacher, I am still able to remember my own school days very well. Even that short period of time ago we were not able to access all of the modern conveniences that are offered today. I teach math intervention for 6th grade part of the day and I know that the kids are able to do very little without calculators in hand. Gone are the days of stressing regular pencil and paper skills.

Sadly, the teachers do not have time to reinforce manual math work anymore due to the crunch time that Achievement Testing creates. The test allows for calculators, so we find ourselves teaching students how to operate calculators as opposed to critical thinking math skills.

Joanne Brebes's picture

How about the blank stares that begin as soon as I start teaching using the board, document camera, or overhead projector? I am not a Play Station, Nintendo, or Wii, and that's what they think about. Even the animated games on my MACs are no longer exciting enough. Try teaching figurative language to students who have had their imaginations given to them in the form of a video game!!!

Cristina Serapiglia's picture

I feel that this generation relies heavily on modern technology, but I also feel state testing requires unrealistic ideals from students. I teach writing, which is very difficult for some of my students. When I ask them to write, which is a state test requirement, they look at me in a baffled way because they do not understand why they cannot type their essays. I agree with them on some levels, because not many people hand write anymore. But as stated in a previous blog, students must first learn to hand write successfully before they can integrate technology and rely on a computer to revise and edit their writing.
I also am unaware of why there is such a strict time limit on writing on the state tests. In college I was instructed to have students use the writing process to complete a writing assignment. However, the students are given only 30 minutes to complete a five paragraph essay. This limited time does not allow for all the steps and students therefore hand in writing that they did not have time to read back over. New Jersey state tests scores are down and I believe students reliance on technology and limited test taking time is a huge factor in this testing score decline.
I was wondering if anyone had any pointers for a writing teacher striving to improve her students test scores!

Imelda Vela's picture

As a future teacher I am concerned about how I will use the technology that is available to help my students achieve and "Keep Up". In most of our educational classes it is constatnly stressed that technology is the new way and that we must be prepared to implement it in our classrooms. Our students are bombarded by technology everday but I agree that the basics must be taught. We must find a way to find a balance and implement both.

Lori L.'s picture

Now I am all for technology and teaching children how to use it, but they have to master the basics first. I love to use technology to enhance my students' learning, but I believe that before they can type up a paragraph they have to write it out. This is a problem though when many students cannot write. I am a second grade teacher. I have found that many of my students have very poor handwriting skills. We start teaching cursive at this grade in my district and many of them do not even form most of their printed letters correctly, so it makes cursive more challenging. Often what I hear my students saying is "I played video games for two hours last night." I realize that there is not much I can do about that, but it is frustrating to know that many students are not getting practice at home (and this extends beyond writing).

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