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Nancy Coolidge | Some responses to the great technology debate

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The last couple of articles about technology have generated a lot of response. This surprised me a little because I always assume my students are right and I’m simply too old to adapt. But I heard from a lot of people — teachers, parents and even my students. I’d like to share some of these responses this week.

First, I need to clarify that schools don’t allow kids to use their cellphones during class. Most of us would ban them totally from school, but the parents want to know that in an emergency they can get hold of their kids. With our challenging world of school shootings and mall shootings, I get this.

I don’t get parents who text and call their students during the school day for reasons that do not constitute an emergency.

Second, my students quickly told me that the abbreviations I referred to are no longer part of text communications. They proudly told me that they use complete sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation. Their new phones make thorough communication easy, and they suggested I update my phone.

One teacher wrote, “In my building it seems a teacher isn’t doing their ‘best’ unless they have an iPad or smartphone hooked to every lesson.” He said it so much better than I suggested in my article: we need to be careful that we aren’t using technology simply because we can.

A parent wanted to tell me that she has done a great deal of research on the dangers of cellphones, sent me several resources which I will share with you, and asked me to caution all students that they should not be sleeping with their cellphones!

Another parent says that taking away their daughter’s cellphone was the very best thing for him and the rest of the family. The phone was a constant interruption and source of conflict.

A citizen wrote that as a taxpayer, he’d like to see the documentation that giving students iPads improves their learning, and echoed my thoughts and others’ that having a computer doesn’t necessarily teach; just because kids like computers and are comfortable on computers doesn’t mean they will learn what we want them to learn.

Personally, I use technology every day. I love the fact that I can immediately have them hear someone from Scotland reading one of Robert Burns’ poems. I like being able to show them the Grand Canyon when we are reading a book whose ending is set on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

I love the convenience of the iPad. I just pose the question, are we using technology for the right reasons?

Here are a couple of websites that might be helpful:

  • For easy tips on cellphone safety with kids. A doctor’s brochure is available to print at ehtrust.org/cell-phones/
  • A recent full review of all the recent peer reviewed research (see the full list abstract summaries by Dr. Lai): bioinitiative.org/
  • The Environment and Human Health Report on Cell Phones from 2011 out of Yale University: ehhi.org/cellphones

Wenatchee resident Nancy Coolidge is a classroom teacher, radio personality and director of several Sylvan Learning Centers. You can ask her a question by posting a comment on her Good Habits, Great Grades blog at wenatcheeworld.com or by emailing goodhabitsgreatgrades@gmail.com.

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