Vishal Singh’s struggle is a relatable one. Even with the age gap between a high school senior and a college senior, it is clear that students of all ages are struggling with the same thing: how not to procrastinate when the temptation of technology is in front of us all the time.
Many of Vishal’s thoughts and statements were like de ja vu to me, knowing that I’ve heard them before in my own head or as they came out of my own mouth. “…tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework,” Matt Richtel writes of Vishal. How many times have us college students felt that struggle? The pressure of the impending doom of the upcoming semester squishing us into little balls of anxiety ready to burst… Okay, that might be a bit over-dramatic, but I know it’s accurate for some of us! Any student can relate to this concept of not being able to put your phone down or turn off Netflix in order to complete a homework assignment.
However, about three pages into the article, I felt a bit of a shift. A professor at Harvard Medical School tells his take on the presence of technology and how it has affected his teaching environment. He begins to implement the use of technology instead of trying to ban it from his classrooms, knowing this is the best way to get the students involved and interested. “No sh*t,” I thought, excuse my inner-voice language. Who doesn’t use their laptops or tablets to help aid them in the learning process these days?
A page later, Richtel alludes back to Vishal’s high school, Woodside, and how “as elsewhere, [the] students’ use of technology is not uniform.” This seemed absolutely ludicrous to me, how the use of technology in these students seemed odd to the administration. Then, I did something I should have done before starting the article: I looked at the date.
November 21, 2010. Of course this seemed foreign to me. The use of technology in schools in 2010 was something new and exciting – more classrooms were implementing Smart Boards, laptops, and cellphones. Now, entering 2016, it’d be crazy NOT to see a student with some piece of technology strapped onto their person.
This discovery of mine shined a new light on the article, and helped me read it in a different way. I realized that Richtel had a very subtle way of speaking poorly about technology, and the bad effects its having on students (or had in 2010) instead of looking at the positives of technology and what an advancement it is making in our everyday lives. Besides, the only real research done in this article was to show the difference of effects between video games and TV. In my opinion, they are both forms of technology that fall under the same umbrella, and whether Sean drinks Hennesey or Jack Daniel’s, he’s still drinking alcohol. I hope that made sense…
The Woodside principal chimes in on what he thinks technology has done to his students: “The technology has created on campuses a new set of social types – not the thespian and the jock but the texter and the gamer, Facebook adict and YouTube potato.” Doesn’t this strike you as a bit ridiculous? Nowadays in 2016, who isn’t a “texter” or “Facebook addict?” It seems redundant to place students in these roles now, since practically 99 out of 100 modern-day students all own and use these types of technologies. Plus, why are we making students feel stupid or wrong for using the technologies that are available to them? Don’t we want them to be able to take advantage of all the things they can in their lives, especially when it is all so readily available and made with the intentions to better their lives
Gunnar Stefansson tells us why technology is an important tool in the learning environment, and why it could help students become smarter all over the world – including third-world countries like Kenya. His TedTalk is shown below:
If that’s not enough of a reason to support the use of technology in youth education, what is? Also, I hate to be a Debbie Downer on a very well-written article, but maybe it’s time to stop believing in all the “harmful effects” that technology can have on our kids and students, especially when that information comes from an article from over five years ago.
Written by: Megan Murray