In reading the article and watching the episode of front line what stands out most for me is the idea that constant technology use is irreversibly changing the way adult and especially kid brains work. I guess that it stands out for me because, I can accept the idea that my students are different from me in some, ultimately. minor ways but; the thought that my students and eventually my own children will really not view the world the same way I do it a bit discomforting.
In recent discussions of the effect of constant, sustained technology exposure on students, a controversial issue has been whether or not it is detrimental. On the one hand, some argue that it is causing students to be unable to engage in sustained, critical thinking. From this perspective, we can explain the prevalence of cell phone use/abuse in class because the students need distraction. On the other hand, however, others argue that the world our students are going to inherit is going to be heavily technology based. According to this view, I can’t really judge the way my students act according to the values of my time. In sum then, the issues is whether there is a clear need to maintain some of the traditional values of school or if we should throw those values out in order to give our students a better “21st century” education.
My own view is that we need to keep what is working in schools and embrace technology at a pace that allows teachers to prepare for it. Though I concede that students will be using technology in their workplaces, I still maintain that good teaching is what makes school work so we should be embracing technology in a way that enhances teaching. I experienced an example of a rush to technology in my first year of teaching, my school had decided to become 1:1 with iPads and was very excited about it. When the teachers asked what we were supposed to do with the iPads we were essentially told to figure it out but that having the technology would make it easy, this was not how that played out. The entire school year was full of issues both with teachers not knowing how to implement the iPads (essentially turning them into worksheet machines) and with students becoming distracted with the iPads in class. Although some might object that the pace at which teachers will adopt technology might be to slow, I would reply that if we rush them the education of our students will suffer. The issue is important because the pace at which technology improves means that my classroom 5 years from now is probably going to look very different from my classroom today. The one constant in that situation is me and my ability to teach young people, if I have not figured out a way to allow my students to use technology but also make sure they can actually do some science I am sunk.