As we look at what education should afford our children, a major consideration should be the ability to keep pace or gain an advantage in a given industry, ANY industry. We have come uopn a time where technology is so interwoven into every part of society that those who are not adroit in using it will surely fall behind their more adept peers. Simply put…no tech, no top! When we look at STEM education we should always make reference to an interdisciplinary approach that aims to cultivate a deeper understanding of each subject through an emphasis on the interrelated nature of science, technology, engineering, and math. It is essential that we focus on the collective nature of all the STEM subjects and the necessity of implementing an interdisciplinary approach rather than treating the individual subjects as disconnected islands. Promoting STEM understanding will lead to increased ability to use analytical approaches to all educational endeavors, as well as master the skill of problem solving while applying this practice across all subjects. What school/student couldn’t use that type of development? The reality is that in order to best position our students for success, we MUST embrace STEM education!
I know this might seem extremely contradictory of me, the person that is constantly imploring you to leverage the opportunities that technology affords to engage students. And you can bet your backside I will continue to do that tomorrow because I truly believe that is the key to moving our students along the critical thinking spectrum. But today is not the day for that. Today was the day for me to put the technology down, put my daughter in my lap and read to her her favorite princess book. There is something that is irreplaceable about watching her anticipation grow as I turn to the next page where she knows the princess gets to wear that pretty dress that she loves. There is a bond that is created in that moment that escapes words. There is something that changes the value of the reading experience when she hears the story from daddy’s voice. And that is something that technology will never ever replace!!!
Is the constant use of technology shortening the attention span of students? Many teachers feel it is according to the results of two surveys who’s results have recently been published. The researchers themselves have noted that the findings do have an obvious amount of subjectivity but still accurately reflect the feelings of the teachers surveyed. The two surveys were conducted by Pew Internet Project and Common Sense Media. The results suggest that the overwhelmimg use of media, computers and mobile devices adversely affects a student’s ability to focus. The majority of teachers surveyed believe that the ability to quickly retrieve information and resolve queries makes it difficult for them to maintain a student’s attention during classroom instruction without performing some animated routine.
This appears to be a valid observation and concern for many teachers. The problem is that society’s adoption of technology in every arena precludes a student from not engaging it. Technology has deeply integrated itself into everything that we do in life. To expect a student or a parent or anyone else for that matter, to not have altered learning and behavioral techniques and habits as a result is an exercise in frustration and futility. Instead, we all must embrace the paradigm shift and leverage its advantages. When was the last time you, yes YOU…the person reading this, pulled out an encyclopedia to do research or the yellow pages to find the number to the Italian restaurant across town? We have all been conditioned to use the technology that is available to us to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently. It would be naive to expect any more, or less, of students. What we have to do in the classroom, just as every other industry has figured out, is use technology as a vehicle to be more effective engaging students and indulging their preferred learning style. I hope I got your attention.