Preparation does not necessarily warrant early participation….quite often preparation involves strengthening inner resources – self-discipline, emotional control, moral judgement, empathy etc. – before the opportunities to participate arise.
Seems to me we should be thinking carefully about this in the context of teaching about and using social networks in the classroom, especially in elementary schools. As much as I do believe that children can develop valuable social skills in an online social networking situation it makes sense to me that first there needs to be a solid foundation of skills based on face to face interactions.
Good preparation for working in this highly abstract, symbolic environment was not lots of computer practice, but an immersion in firsthand experiences and relationships that would give depth and meaning to the knowledge students had to depict and interpret on the screen.
He quotes a 2004 study from the University of Munich that showed that the more students had access to computers in school and at home, the lower their overall scores on PISA interanational tests (not sure what these are). Similar results were found in a recent study by the Children`s Digital Media Center. To me this reinforces how important it is that the way technology is used in the classroom has a sound pedagogical basis. If it is just used as a way to replace face to face interactions (which is a very tempting option that I am guilty of sometimes) then it is no surprise that the results are less than impressive. I wonder how many of the schools in these studies had invested time in teacher training and careful lesson design, or were they all just jumping on the technology bandwagon.
If the 20th century taught us anything at all, it should have been that technology is a very mixed blessing. Children entering elementary schools today will have to wrestle with the mess we leave them because of our own lack of technological wisdom: global warming, increasingly lethal weapons …. addiction to automobiles, overuse of pesticides and antibiotics …
This one really made me think. I am a die hard advocate to technology in schools and can see so much potential if technology is used in an appropriate pedagogical environment. But I wonder whether we are capable of looking into the future honestly and identifying the long term impact our increasing reliance on technology is going to have on things like social relationships and health.
So this all leaves me wondering whether the ideal Elementary Curriculum for preparing students for a Technologically rich middle and high school experience should actually be technology free. Monke suggests that the following activities should be essential experiences in the lower grades:
- Close, loving relationships with responsible adults
- Outdoor activity, nature exploration, gardening etc
- Time for unstructured play
- Music, drama, puppetry, dance, painting and other arts
- Hands on lessons, handcrafts ….
- Conversation, poetry, storytelling, and books read alound with beloved adults.
Photo by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha on Flickr