When the USD 431 Technology team reported to the Board of Education Monday night about their experience at the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in June, it was easy to get caught up in their excitement for all things high tech and new. At least, until this reporter’s technology failed, and she was sent rummaging through her purse for a pen and notepad.
The keynote speaker, Michio Kaku, was quoted by one of the presenters as having said, “We need to teach 21st Century skills to 21st Century learners - we can’t teach the same way we taught in the 1950s.”
A new standard rolled out by ISTE is to begin teaching keyboarding as early now as second grade. That sounds like a great idea, except when we consider where will there be time to teach the old tech skills of handwriting and penmanship if more and more pressure is applied in early grades to adopt these newer technologies? We will likely not be able to extend the school day, nor the school year, to fit more in, which means some things will need to be cut out, as they have been ever since the 1980s brought us the personal computer.
If we take it for granted that children will always learn to write with a pencil and paper, we’re bound to be shocked someday when we ask a young person if we can borrow a pencil and they return a quizzical look.
Excitement and enthusiasm among our teachers to bring new and important skills to our children is to be applauded. But as we rush to adopt new technologies, it would be wise to consider the importance of what we may lose. After all, power outages are still common experiences, and technology does fail. It’s nice to be able to take it for granted we can get by without it in an emergency.