My husband and I took away my son’s Kindle yesterday. It was a severe form of punishment for a 10 year old, and he put up a big fuss. But something happened after a while. He began to do other things, the sorts of things we all did when we were growing up. He played board games, he kicked the ball around outside. He enjoyed his summer.
I really wish we could go back to that lifestyle. I wouldn’t care if my children never worked on a computer during the school day until they were high school. In fact, I would prefer that. I want them to read from a book, write with a pencil, and work out math problems — on paper. With all the promise that computers bring to improving learning, most of this extra help can be done with younger students through “low tech” methods.
There can be tutors for younger students who are high school students, college students, or members of the community. A complicated computerized tutoring program is not needed. My son goes to a computer lab in his grade school twice a week. He thinks it’s a lot of fun, and I’m all for a limited exposure, but I don’t really care to have him interacting with computers on a regular basis. I don’t want lap tops or tablets in the grade school classroom.
But high school is different. This is when students need the benefits of computers. And there are some real motivational issues with high school students. Self-directed projects through technology can really help the motivation of older students. It can also help those who need extra help in traditional academic subjects. Hiring a human tutor for a high school student can run between $50.00 and $75.00 an hour. That’s a lot of money for a little extra help with Algebra or Geometry. Instead, Kahn Academy videos (all free) and other resources can provide the additional help that is needed.
I am so frustrated when I hear technology integration in school focusing on grade school students. (I think that many technology integrators think these students are easier to manage than high school students, so it’s a good place to start). But it is high school students who need educational technology applications the most. I have stated this over and over in my book. As adults, we cannot imagine doing our day-to-day jobs without the benefits of tech, and high school students (who also have a fully functioning adult brain) will must certainly feel the same. Let’s keep childhood a special place away from the necessities of leading a productive life. Let’s keep it simple and fun!