By Orts Lamroe ’17
As more technology is admitted to schools, many speak enthusiastically about the benefits of drilling old chalkboards with support frames for SMART Boards, replacing traditional composition notebooks with the Notebook Pro, and trading writing pads for iPads. However, it does not appear that spendings billions on classroom electronics has greatly affected students and their scores as advertised.
It’s an undeniable fact that there are good and bad students, and the former will strive to learn equally despite the classroom. Bad students won’t care about the Russian Revolution of 1917 or the gravitational acceleration of an object with a mass of 4kg any more simply because the information has been put on a screen.
Former teacher and current head coach of the wrestling team, Dr. George A. Hero, said, “When computers, cell-phones, and calculators weren’t used widely, students had to read books, write out their notes and they were able to do more mental math. The dependence on technology is destroying memorization, research skills, and hurting work ethic.”
There is significant proof that educational excellence comes not from technology, but from student drive, more teaching freedoms, and rigorous curriculums. According to the Center on International Education Benchmarking, Finland ranks as having one of the best educational systems worldwide. However, Finland is reported as using less technology in schools than other countries in Europe according to Politico’s article “Finland’s low-tech take on education.” Also, the article discusses the government’s cooperativeness with teachers’ unions in order to produce well-rounded educators.
For more than a decade, national math and reading scores of American students have not experienced the prophesied changes despite spending millions on new technology . According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the best average reading score for high school seniors in the last 14 years was in 1992 and has decreased since then. As for math, scores for seniors have been stagnant, and during some periods, dipped down since 2000.
“I haven’t seen significant changes in my grades depending on whether the class I go to uses a SMART Board or not. I simply do better in classes that I like and decide to do work in,” said Brett Davidson ’18.
However, modern technology in classrooms delivers some benefits. Visual learning is experiencing a golden age. Teachers are able to demonstrate complex ideas through simplified videos, and add interesting variety to dull lessons. Also, lessons don’t have to be rewritten Most importantly, students are able to experience and transition more smoothly into a modern world turning towards technologization.
“The ability to teach students much more information with pre-made slides, videos, diagrams, and maps helps keep the class engaged and interested especially for visual learners,” said Mateen Yaseen ’17.
Despite the additions of technology in classrooms and the benefits, statistics on student scores don’t show promising news for educators and students. More resources should be allocated towards fixing the country’s schools or emulating proven and successful education systems from around the world. The main concern should not be stuffing classrooms with new electronics in hopes of good results that so far have not lived up to the potential.