Techie before Ten
My new computer came loaded with Windows 8. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that my learning curve for this new system is quite high. But, after a couple of frustrating days, I feel that I’m finally starting to get the gist of it.
I’ve never been afraid of technology and, at my advanced age :), consider myself reasonably knowledgeable. But it never ceases to amaze me how tech-savvy young children are and how they often leave me in their dust.
In part, I believe it’s because you, their parents- members of Gen X and Gen Y- have spent a fair share of your growing up years in the world of cyberspace, wireless technology, mobile devices, etc. So it naturally follows that your children have been immersed in this world since birth, and frankly, find it very familiar.
During my years at Hawthorne School I saw an amazing transformation of technology in the classroom. Back when I started working there in the early 1980’s, technology in the classroom was basically unheard of.
I think this was mostly because technology itself was big and bulky, certainly nothing that could be “retro-fit” for classroom usage. And the computer world was mostly thought of as an adult domain.
But soon that type of thinking became obsolete. Adults started concurring that kids needed to learn all about computers and the technology they brought with them because that’s the way our world was moving. The change was gradual, but persistent.
First, there were two or three computers in each classroom. In small segments of time, children began to learn their way around and become familiar with these classroom computers.
As time went by, a shared computer lab provided a computer for each child in a class and lessons on keyboarding, along with educational games, became common. More technological advancements found mobile computer labs with wireless technology that move from room to room.
And at each step, the children were like sponges, absorbing everything that came their way. Today’s classrooms bear very little resemblance to the classrooms of 1982- at least as far as technology is concerned.
However, there are still some amazing similarities that will hopefully never go away. One of the most obvious is the relevance of the written word in a child’s education.
At Hawthorne, each classroom is set up so that the classroom library takes a special place of honor in the room. The colorful bookshelves, baskets, bins and crates of books continue to draw children to them. There’s just something that feels right about sitting in the reading nook with a special book friend. And that is good.
Another similarity between the classrooms of the past and today’s classrooms at Hawthorne is an abundance of games and props that allow for a child’s interaction with his classmates. An awful lot of learning happens when two children play a game of Concentration during free time.
As each child exercises her brain trying to remember where the card with a puppy or a goldfish is located on the table, the social interaction that happens is helping a child learn social skills that she will carry with her throughout her life.
Puppets, classroom plays, readers’ theater and many other “people based” activities also contribute to a child’s social upbringing, just as they did years ago.
But of course, this doesn’t discount the importance of technology education. If our children are to be successful in our technological world where things are moving along at lightening speed, it’s important that technology education is a cornerstone of their learning.
So, ultimately, it makes sense that there must be room for both facets in a child’s education. Yes, kids must know how to use a computer, how to do research and type up their papers, how to make movies, how mobile devices function and how to pick their way through a world of technology that changes daily.
But, it’s also necessary for schools to understand the importance of the social and interactive aspects of learning. To appreciate the beauty of a child holding a special book and turning each page expectantly as he is drawn into the story. To celebrate a child learning to stand up in front of people and give a report, sing a song or act in a classroom play.
In my observations, if we want our children to have well-rounded educations that help prepare them for the future, there must be room for both facets in their school day.
There’s an article in the Huffington Post that lists 10 things that are vital to teach children in their technology education. I think it makes some very good points. Click here to read the post.
In closing today’s post, I just want to mention that as busy and challenging and confusing as our world is, one constant is kids. Kids are still kids.
They are the center of what’s good in the world so I ask that you don’t forget to appreciate your child for everything he is. Oh, and also don’t forget to ask him for help with Windows 8!
Thanks for dropping by today. Hope you have a wonderful week!