For the technologically savvy, it is easy to understand the pressing need to eradicate traditional methods of teaching today’s kids. We are, after all, in the digital age, and utilizing computers to shape and set the direction for young minds can be all-encompassing in that it can unleash the power to obtain much greater knowledge and spark limitless creativity than a typical school system can ever do.
Foremost expert on the impact of computers on learning Seymour Papert noted how the major role of technology in the learning of young children lies in its “ability to facilitate and extend children’s awesome natural ability and drive to contruct. ” (as cited in Schwartz, 1999) No less than Nobel Prize awardee for Physics Albert Einstein echoed a similar frame of thought when he said that “creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
Indeed, digital technology enables today’s kids to be masters of their universe,by broadening their spheres of learning. Papert espoused “powerful spontaneous learning” aided by modern computer technology. Alongside this thought, he pointed out that over time, the “assembly-line model of school with a curriculum-driven structure of learning foisted on generation after generation of young learners” will go away. In its place, if people and circumstances allow it, will be a “social invention”.
While Papert realistically acknowledged the dangers that new technology brings, especially on the possibility of computers disconnecting the family and creating deep ‘generational’ gaps, he posited that these dangers may be curbed with the right parental approach and guidance. John Seely Brown (a researcher who specializes in organizational studies with particular bent towards the organizational implications of computer-supported activities) underscored the potential dangers of an increasingly impersonal form of interaction and acquisition of information.
Learning, as he expressed in an online article entitled “Learning in the Digital Age,” is “a remarkably social process. ” Papert evidently took this into consideration and placed greater emphasis on the manifold benefits that modern computer technology can do in terms of enhancing knowledge and even enabling kids to become both a “political force” who can offer expertise and an “educational force “ who can implement changes and take the lead in various projects.
I fully agree that modern computer technology can open up new and different ways of learning in a much shorter span of time compared to what traditional schools can do in years. Virtual learning experiences and tools definitely save time and take learning to a higher level. On the other hand, I think that it may not necessarily lead to creative or constructive pursuits. Information overload brought about by fast-running digital technology may backfire on young minds. It is at this point that I concur with Papert’s view that shared intellectual activities between parents and kids is crucial.
I feel that parents, reared and molded through traditional schooling, need not impose computer learning that deviates from free-wheeling exploration and centers purely, instead, on stifling programs aimed at getting btter grades for the kids. At the same time, I empathize with parents who hesitate to participate in the digital learning experiences of their kids, because from the very start they were, as Papert phrased it, “too nervous about the technology, or too angry at it, because they don’t like what’s happening.
More than updating the school curricula to keep abreast with the digital age, a whole new shift or guided way of thinking in letting digital technology empower kids just may be worthwhile. Through it all, children at a certain responsible age ought to be able to experience and explore things and accumulate knowledge they can sift through, at their own level of understanding, at their own pace, and at their own judgment.