From the New York Times
There is a widespread belief among teachers that students’ constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks, according to two surveys of teachers being released on Thursday.
An English teacher quoted in the story complained “I’m an entertainer. I have to do a song and dance to capture their attention.” and later asked “What’s going to happen when they don’t have constant entertainment?”.
However, is technology the problem? Or what it’s “doing to” kids?
Although I can sympathize to some degree, the English teacher’s statement and the opinions of a majority in the survey are a little disturbing. The whole foundation on which these studies are based* assumes that whatever is being done in the classroom is right and the kids are “wrong” in some way, due, of course, to their “constant use of digital technology”.
I wonder if anyone – researchers or subjects – seriously questioned whether what the students were asked to learn, the assignments they were given, the instructional methods might, just might, be a major factor in their “shorter attention spans”.
Is technology to blame?
Or is a large part of the problem that our education system is largely unwilling to take a reflective look at itself, to reevaluate what today’s students need to know and how to best help them learn it?
*Admittedly I haven’t read either report so it’s possible I’m completely wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.