The Wenatchee World

Weather:

Weather

The latest extended forecast from The Weather Channel

Remove this weather forecast

Hydrologic Outlook issued February 11 at 3:13PM PST until February 13 at 10:00AM PST by NWS

...WARM, RAINY, AND WINDY CONDITIONS WILL LEAD TO STREAM RISES... A MORE UNSETTLED WEATHER PATTERN ARRIVES THIS WEEKEND BRINGING RAINS AND WARM TEMPERATURES. MELTING MID AND LOW ELEVATION SNOW, IN COMBINATION WITH THE RAINS, WILL LEAD TO RISES ON MANY OF THE AREA`S STREAMS. MONDAY AND TUESDAY ARE FORECAST TO BRING EVEN WARMER TEMPERATURES ALONG WITH WARM WINDS WHICH WILL INCREASE THE

This Afternoon

Hi40° Rain Likely

Tonight

Lo34° Rain then Chance Rain

Friday

Hi44° Chance Rain

Friday Night

Lo33° Slight Chance Rain

Saturday

Hi46° Partly Sunny

Saturday Night

Lo34° Chance Rain

Sunday

Hi46° Chance Rain

Sunday Night

Lo39° Chance Rain

Washington's Birthday

Hi55° Mostly Cloudy

Monday Night

Lo39° Slight Chance Rain

Nancy Coolidge | Computer learning: The debate goes on

Send to Kindle
Print This

Technology in the classroom has been a “hot topic” in education for as long as I can remember. Even when I was in high school — and that was a very long time ago — teachers were outraged because people were suggesting that in the not-too-distant-future they would be replaced by robots and/or computers.

We seem to think technology will solve all the problems educators face — large classes, huge range of knowledge and ability, dysfunctional families, poverty, changing rules, changing curricula.

To me there is a flaw in the thinking. Sure — taking attendance while I’m away from my desk, showing things from the Internet while I’m walking around the room, finding proven lesson plans that some other English teacher was kind enough to share — those are all benefits to me. I also love being able to instantly “fill holes” when a student hasn’t seen the Grand Canyon or doesn’t know about the Suez Canal or isn’t familiar with Georgia O’Keeffe’s clouds.

But kids use computers for other reasons. I used to have parents beg me to help them find online education programs because their students “loved being on the computer.” I gave them some names and a whole lot of cautions, and always reminded them that their students didn’t love the computer; they loved some of what was on the computer: games, social networks, youtube, and their email and chat room capability.

They weren’t learning geometry or reading “Huckleberry Finn” (although they might be reading the Sparknotes). They were learning who broke up with whom and what Sammy got for Christmas and who is currently the classmate they choose to tease or ostracize or bully.

Most of our students have smartphones and know every bell and whistle that accompany them. They generally can’t have them out of their hands much less out of their field of vision.

They make fun of me because I don’t text and I don’t let them use the dictionary on their phone to look up definitions. They think it’s because I’m old, but it’s not. It’s because high-stakes tests such as the High School Proficiency Exam and the SAT don’t allow electronic dictionaries. But they do allow paperbacks, so I want my kids to be able to use that tool efficiently.

And adults aren’t much better when it comes to electronic dependency and, I believe, a type of rudeness. I’ve already written about having to listen to people’s personal phone calls while I’m on the treadmill or waiting in line somewhere.

Recently, I was at a workshop with a whole lot of educators from all over the region. Most of them had iPads. When the presenter mentioned a website or an app that would have some benefit to us, 90 percent of those teachers typed it in on the spot to “check it out.” About one-third of them discussed it with their neighbor. That meant, of course, that they weren’t listening to the presenter.

Stories emerge daily about grants providing computers to every student in schools all over the country. Within minutes, most of the students have figured out overrides for whatever restrictions were put on the computer. Within days, half the computers didn’t come back to school.

I like technology as well as anyone. I was the first in my school to get an electric typewriter. I was the first in my neighborhood to get a personal computer and, later, a home printer. One of my colleagues, Chris, said that if technology were educational, we’d have the smartest kids in the world. But we don’t.

I’m not even persuaded that kids love technology. They are simply using the tools they are given ... just as we used our adding machines and portable phones and electric typewriters. But I didn’t learn anything from them.

That’s the big task — how do we use technology and our students’ dependence on it to teach them to learn, to synthesize, to analyze, to think?

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.