April 21, 2011 11:50:00 AM
Classrooms are different places than they were a generation ago -- even five years ago. Gone are the chalkboards, and even the dry-erase boards; in their place in many classrooms now are Promethean boards, which hook directly to a computer and allow the teacher and students to interact, real-time, with remote controls.
Not only are the clunky computers in the corner of the classroom being replaced with high-tech computer labs, laptops are being issued to students. Elementary school-age kids are doing their homework by computer, and parents are accessing their grades, and tracking their progress, online.
Parents aren''t writing notes to teacher, sending them by way of little Johnny -- who may or may not deliver it, depending on the trouble he''s in. Parents and teachers are emailing each other, even texting.
And the latest development to all this technology? Heritage Academy Elementary, through a grant, landed iPod Touches for its first-graders.
Some of us who weren''t even allowed to use calculators in our high-school math classes might be jealous, and even a bit baffled, by all this. (So might some of the teachers, who are dealing with the fact that the students know more about some of these classroom implements than they do.)
This is an age-old concern. Technology will always march forward, and our students need to march along with it.
We believe, however, that nothing will ever replace the guidance of a good teacher. The personal connection between teacher and student, not the latest iBook or iPod, is the most important part of the classroom experience.
In a story on this subject yesterday, Heritage Academy Elementary principal Yandell Harris summed things up nicely: "I can see maybe down the road there won''t be any books. But there''s nothing like teaching and instruction time with the teacher. Our teachers still teach."
As long as that remains true, bring on the iPods.
esther commented at 4/21/2011 5:25:00 PM:
Has the mathematical skill of our students improved due to all this buzzing technology? We rank 31st of the world's industrialized nations in math. To me, this is unsatisfactory. When the response on how to calculate a 15% tip is, "there's an app for that," we have a problem, and folks, we have a problem.
frank commented at 4/21/2011 9:14:00 PM:
Calculators should be banned in all elementary and junior high schools. They should only be permitted in high school science classes but not math classes. So called high school graduates today can not even make change.
bonnie commented at 4/25/2011 6:57:00 PM:
Yes, frank, I remember when the science teachers taught us how to use slide rules, too, and the mathematics teachers wouldn't let us us them in our mathematics classes. Students have always had problems making change; using calculators doesn't affect that. In 1990, on the National Assesment of Educational Progress, only 23% of the students correctly answered a question about making change. In 2003, 35% of the students correctly answered that question. We still aren't doing well at teaching that concept, but we're getting better. What calculator usage will do, though, is allow a student who can't do it by hand to keep a job that involves making change.
frank commented at 4/25/2011 8:08:00 PM:
Go back to 1965 when there were no calculators and you find that 5th graders could make change. That is why most of us adults who were in the 5th grade at that time can still do it.
"using calculators doesn't affect that" If that is what you really think I sure hope you are not an educator! Relying on a box with buttons instead of understanding subtraction certainly does put one at a disadvantage when the task is to make change without the box.
Calculators should be banned in grades K-8. Children should learn the mechanics of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables up to 12 and long division. It is BASIC arithmetic and it is extremely important mental training that is being neglected in this country. It is time to get back to basics and get to work. It is no mystery why the world is kicking our ass in public education.
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5. Charles Krauthammer: The wages of weakness NATIONAL COLUMNS