‘Today, many school districts in Clayton County are instituting the use of iPads as an educational tool. These machines are being used from kindergarten classes through high school.
According to the U.S. Center for Media Literacy, fewer than 5 percent of schools teach media education. Why not have a class dedicated to teaching the risks of media consumption rather than insisting all children need to have an iPad in their hands and know where it is at all times?
In a 2011 New York Times article, Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, suggested that millions of dollars in financial resources currently being invested in iPads would be better spent to recruit, train and retain teachers.
Cuban wrote, “There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines. … iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.”
In the 2005 documentary, “Remote Control: Children, Media Consumption and the Changing American Family,” Hillary Clinton implied her concern with media consumption by saying, “With some additional research, the case will be conclusive that we are causing long-term public health damage to many, many children and therefore to society.”
Part of my job as a naturalist is to give classroom programs on the environment.
In December, I walked into a classroom of second-graders all scattered in different parts of the room. Headphones were covering their ears, and eyes focused on the screen in front of them. The students were so unaware of their surroundings that the teacher had to remove the headphones from their ears.
I thought possibly these students were using their iPads as a brief educational tool. Then I saw the daily iPad schedule included using the machines for math, science, history and reading.
Before holiday break, I observed 22 papers posted outside of a second-grade classroom. The students’ task was to color in a picture of a bear and answer the question “When little bear sleeps, I will be …” Nine of the 22 responses said they would be “playing video games.”
Walking into another elementary school, I saw a poster asking parents to donate money for the purchase of more iPad applications. The poster stated how critical it was for the students to become exposed to technology as it becomes more integrated into their daily life.
Another indication of the over-consumption of media in schools occurred when a veteran middle school teacher in Clayton County spoke to me of her frustrations over iPads in her classroom.
“As teachers, we are made to feel we are doing a disservice to the kids if we don’t teach them how to use this technology right now,” the teacher said. “… I have to work so much harder to implement one hands-on activity in an hour of class, yet more and more, I go home sad because of this difficult transition.”
Interestingly, this was the same class where students asked me if I had some animals they could touch.
A great forewarning is already occurring in Idaho, where virtual academies are being offered to students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, subsequently replacing the need for school-based learning.