A recent article in Education Week called “Technology in Education: An Overview,” states that public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students. Schools, we are told, spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content. A sentence starting with “Led by the federal government,” tells us about free online teacher resources and making high speed internet available in even the most remote and rural schools. The article continues:

“There’s the booming ed-tech industry, with corporate titans and small startups alike vying for a slice of an $8 billion-plus yearly market for hardware and software. Much attention is also paid to the “early adopters”—those districts, schools, and teachers who are making the most ingenious and effective uses of the new tools at their disposal.”

So these apparent advocates of good education calling themselves Education Week have made it clear that somebody is making a lot of money pushing technology on the world and that the federal government is rewarding those who accept the push first.

The next paragraph begins, “But a significant body of research has also made clear….” And hearts rise. Now will they tell us how sick computers are making children and teachers alike? How research demonstrates that it is extremely difficult to retain information read online? How research further demonstrates that screen use is depriving children of gross motor skills that aid their physical and brain development both? How the occurrence of childhood illnesses like ADHD, autism, asthma, diabetes, eye disorders, sensory integration disorders, auditory processing issues, anxiety disorders, and more, has increased exponentially with the increase in use of screen technologies in schools? How much the gap between the nurturing hearts of teachers and the aspiring hearts of children has widened, to the despair of everyone who cares about children, with the increased use of screen technologies in schools?

Alas, no! The article goes on to say, “But a significant body of research has also made clear that most teachers have been slow to transform the ways they teach, despite the influx of new technology into their classrooms.” In fairness the paragraph does explain that computers have not improved the performance of students, and that some worry about distractions possibly being a problem, and that unequal access might widen achievement gaps. (Of course, if computers don’t improve performance, this should not be a worry. The statement only rings hollowly, adding to the urgency to get computers faster, much like a sales pitch to continue the lucrative $8 billion industry.)

Isn’t it interesting that the habit of indicting teachers as somehow inadequate persists even here? First in this list is that they are “slow to transform the ways they teach.” Who says the ways they teach need transformation? The tech industry? Hmmm. Could their motives for profit have anything to do with this? Could it be that teachers understand intuitively that technology is in fact a block to the right approach for child development? Maybe they’re hanging on for dear life to protect effective teaching techniques instead of succumbing to what the technology industry, backed shamelessly by the federal government, insists must be the future of education?

Why would we think technology industry moguls, motivated by astronomical profits, and politicians in Washington, D.C., who are beneficiaries of these profits, with Education Week lending a helping hand, know a blasted thing about children or about education?

“Enough already!” we say. Any good teacher reading the Common Core State Standards would laugh out loud at the curriculum descriptions of, say, grade four, knowing that no one who has ever stood in front of fourth grade students in an actual classroom could write such abstract and ineffective stuff! Pushing the children to accept it to keep profits up is making our youngsters sicker and sicker.

This is exploitation. Children love and trust us, and they are trying very hard. When will we step up for them and say, “Stop it!” The rate of suicide in teenagers and young adults is at an all time high. Who would give young people the idea that they are not needed to make the world more human, more whole, more wholesome? That they are failing because the computer says so?

We all know that children need heart-warmth, interest, enthusiasm for their different ways of processing, respect for the need to move and play, inventive pondering about ways to make subjects and concepts understandable and lively. So why are we allowing all this to be foisted upon our children, our students, our precious future-bearing young, not to mention on our invaluable dedicated teachers?

Enough already! Enough! Let’s get back to relationship-based, caring education without profit or election motives in it at all!

Healthy happy children who love to learn – this is the vision we need to hold. Looking children in the eye with confidence, instead of fiddling around to make the technology work and asking children to look at a screen instead of a teacher, is the best way forward. Sure, computers have their place as tools, as aids, when youngsters are old enough to have developed themselves to a thinking place that never is fooled into believing that artificial intelligence is superior to heart-imbued, human thinking. Until that moment, children deserve a teacher, able to endow any lesson or comprehension with intelligence that will not sacrifice human values for a machine-generated, correct answer, or a test score.

Children should not be asked to live in a world in which profits and political clout outweigh the well-being and protection of the young. Enough! Let’s work for an intelligence that is not artificial. Let’s have authentic intelligence, human intelligence, rich with human heart forces, instead.

 

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