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Before we get this column started, let me make clear that by no means was my childhood free from electronic
We had Atari and Nintendo game systems. We had televisions and VHS recorders. We spent hours in video arcades with nothing to show for the time or the money that we spent.
But today, there are more gadgets. More convenience. More ways to disconnect from reality and bypass face-to-face interaction.
So it’s a slippery slope to merge modern-day technology with the classroom in a way that enhances education instead of hindering it.
The tools are all there. It’s just a matter of channeling students’ energies so they can put those technological minds to use.
Both of Bartholomew County’s
public school systems are rolling out new technology, piece by piece, to its teachers and students.
The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., for example, is upgrading Wi-Fi services in its buildings so students can tap in with their own devices such as personal cellphones.
Flat Rock-Hawcreek is unfolding bring-your-own-technology capabilities as well.
The upside to connectivity is obvious as a learning tool. It gives students lightning-fast access to the world to complement their experiences in the classrooms. It solves the problem of students being able to access the Internet only on school devices, which are limited in number.
It gives teachers the tools to experiment with mobile apps for their classes and complement their traditional instruction to students.
Officials say their schools stress proper use to students. For example, students cannot access pornographic or otherwise inappropriate sites because of safeguards built into the systems.
I don’t doubt the schools have a good plan. They just need to be careful that children don’t mentally stray under their watch.
I’ve seen the power of these electronic gadgets in my own family.
Last year, my extended family gathered at my mother’s house for Thanksgiving. Just about every kid in the house had his face buried in a cellphone, gaming system and who knows what else.
They weren’t socializing with one another, even though they were sitting physically in the same room. Their minds were a million miles away — all in different directions.
Disgusted, I asked my mom to implement a “no-electronics” policy for Thanksgiving this year, forcing the kids to check their cellphones and gaming devices at the door so they could actually get better acquainted with their cousins.
My daughter, Ashlynn, and her cousin, Caleb, also have given me insight into what can happen when you give a kid a gadget.
Ashlynn and Caleb love each other. They play hard, they converse like adults and do so much else that we hope will build a lasting
But I found out one day just how much electronics can get in the way.
These kids hadn’t seen each other in two or three months, and yet they sat side by side, playing their respective game systems and not conversing with each other.
My wife and I put a stop to that immediately.
Children these days have a lot of potential. Their minds bend in ways that ours never could when it comes to computers.
Let’s just proceed with caution.
Paul Minnis is a senior reporter at The Republic. He can be reached at 379-5638 or email@example.com.
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