The drawbacks of technology in the classroom

I’m a great fan of technology, but I worry about it’s widespread use by young kids. One of my nephews, for example, can barely read and write, but he can work an iPad like it’s nobody’s business. He couldn’t throw a ball to save his life, but he can control a joystick like a ninja with some nunchaku. In fact, he spends almost all his free time playing video games. He has little patience for trucks, action figures, drawing, legos, etc.

This certainly can have important effects in various aspects of a child’s life, from physical conditioning to social skills. Below are some quotes from Crisis Magazine discussing the cons of technology in the classroom. I have no expertise in those areas, but I am an economist who studies innovation and economic growth. From my perspective, I can see some drawbacks of this precocious submersion into technology.

When I was a kid, we had to use our imagination to keep ourselves entertained. My brother and I had a few action figures, a truck or two, and a sandbox. So we’d invent stories about the lives of the various action figures and we’d build stuff in the sand. Or we’d invent a game with a ball, using trees and stones as lines to delimit the field. This led us to develop creativity. As kids grow into adults, creativity becomes the source of all the innovation that drives the economy.

In contrast, today’s kids that are submerged in video games don’t have to use creativity nearly as much. The games provide the scenario, the characters and the storyline. The child just needs to react to the action presented to him or her (mostly him, when it comes to video games).

I have no doubt that kids playing video games will be fluent in the use of technology in the workplace. They will adapt quickly and be able to use any gadget their employer requires of them. However, will they have the capacity to think outside the box and innovate? I have my doubts. Without innovation, an advanced economy like Canada or the U.S. simply cannot grow and thrive. If we undermine the innovative skills of future generations, we might be undermining our future prosperity.

There is a growing consensus among human beings that the effects of our developing technology are not conducive to human development. Popular technology, despite its claim to interact and connect, breeds isolation. It causes people, especially young people, to stray into an introverted withdrawal from others and the world. As such, these results are antithetical to the action of education—educere, “to lead out.”
(…)
It can be argued that the more information is available, the more people can be informed; or that the more there is to see, the more will people look. It appears, however, that the contrary is true. One of the chief reasons for this is the passivity that the virtual kaleidoscope fosters. The very medium in which it is presented induces superficiality of thought and expression. Knowledge was once imparted through reading, reflection, and conversation—activities requiring mental participation. Does the mind participate as fully now as it did then? Or are we too “spaced out?” The stimuli are too predominant and too numerous for man to even react intelligently. (Source)

One thought on “The drawbacks of technology in the classroom

  1. great article by Sean Fitzpatrick. His brother is also published in Crisis Magazine and is the Grade 7/8 teacher at Maryvale Academy in Ottawa!

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