Recent studies show that loneliness in young people around the world is on the rise and smartphones together with social media appear to be major culprits. There are some interesting (and surprisingly simple) suggestions about how we can help reverse this trend, and it can be done at school. This excerpt from an opinion piece in the New York Times (thanks for sharing this Jack) stood out to me:
"One important step is to give kids a long period each day when they are not distracted by their devices: the school day. Phones may be useful for getting to and from school, but they should be locked up during the school day so students can practice the lost art of paying full attention to the people around them — including their teachers."
I have taught for over 20 years and I remember pre-device classrooms fondly. I also remember how quickly they changed when every student had a device in hand. At first it was exciting to think of using devices for teaching and learning, but the truth is they don't work for that function because they were not developed for learning. Most devices were developed for enterprise use and yet we seem to put a ton of faith in their ability to be the next evolution of teaching and learning.
Do you remember having to book the computer lab and take your class there for specific lessons? Back then every lesson did not require technology and in most learning environments today it is not necessary for every lesson either.
What struck me about this suggestion to ban phones from classrooms is that in today's world it seems so radical! However, I believe it is foreshadowing. In time we will begin to see a trend in what a friend calls "post-technology" schools. Schools that are tired of spending precious funds purchasing, repairing, and replacing technology, and those that recognize that young people are better off without tech and devices in classrooms.
If you know me personally you know that I am a bit of an educational dichotomy - but not really. I see great value in analog educational tools like Organized Binder but I teach in an online, asynchronous, independent study high school program. The key is my students still use Organized Binder in this fully digital learning environment and are more successful, and I would argue happier and more connected, as a result.
Organized Binder is a simple, hands-on, tactile instructional tool that frames learning for students. No tech needed. No wifi needed. With that said, it works seamlessly with digital learning to blend the learning environment and if we embrace the findings of recent studies, and heed their advice, it could help young people simply be happier.
I would gladly teach with no tech allowed if I knew it would help my students live happier and more connected lives. What about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic!