As a 30+ year teacher, I can tell you that something in our society has drastically changed in the last two decades; something so deep and pervasive, it is changing our way of life. This is a pretty dramatic claim, if I say so myself, but I believe it is true, and many people in our society are beginning to think along the same lines. Have you noticed how hard it is to engage a young person in conversation? Have you noticed that many people, young and not so young, are actually missing the events that take place around them because they are totally engrossed in some kind of electronic media, whether it is a phone conversation or music? Have you noticed the absence of children playing outside, riding their bikes or playing in a sandlot ball game? Have you noticed that the attention span of our children is decreasing at an alarming rate? Have you noticed that many children seem to be more docile and easily swayed to do things that they probably should not?
If you have experienced these behaviors, then you yourself have probably not succumbed to the lure of electronic media. Make no mistake about all of this; the lure is powerful and as addictive as any narcotic out there! There have even been thorough and credible studies done that show the endorphin levels of a person rise every time the cell phone rings. (In case you are not familiar with endorphins, they are the body’s way of making us feel good.) To make matters worse, we live in a very stressful society! The evolution of modern technological society is moving faster than our-only-left-the-cave-10,000-years-ago body and brain are capable of comprehending. This could be the reason we are in the middle of a drug war that we are losing, and an electronic mind numbing-experience we do cannot afford to acknowledge! A large percentage of the population is running away from real life and burying its head in the proverbial sand. Our children are being indoctrinated at a young age to accept modern technologies as part of every day life. Teachers cannot compete with the undeniable, alluring excitement that a computer game can offer; instead, educators have introduced the computer in the classroom to replace some of the instruction. I have no problem with computers, in the classroom but it is important to remember that the computer is a tool, not an instructor. The next time I hear that we need more technology in the class room, I will get sick! An example of the first experiment done with technology is the calculator. With its insertion into the classroom, students’ ability to use their multiplication table has fallen to the point that very few high school students can even tell you what 8X7 is. I believe that a student should not even touch a calculator until he is doing algebra. Lasting learning is about experiencing the world, interacting with people, experimenting, falling down, getting up after a fall and looking at the stars at night and saying “WOW!” Learning is NOT about i-phones and computer screens; it’s about real life experiences!