In the previous edition of VARSITY (edition 2, February 28th), the term “geeks” in Katy Scott’s article caught my eye. Upon learning that a group of seven-year-olds were granted access to iPads for educational reasons, I wasn’t very opinioned to begin with, but some thoughts came to mind, which is why I’m writing this article.
Firstly, I’d like to say it’s great that schools are trying new ways of teaching. The world is changing, so should the teaching paradigm. Since there is no real way of knowing in advance what teaching methods are the best, I say experiment away.
What worries me isn’t techno-logical progress. I am concerned about the accessibility these children gain at such a young age. I do not doubt that the use of iPads and such is properly monitored at school but between kids wanting to “grow up” faster and faster with each year and the decreasing age by which they get their first smartphone, I wonder if parents really do a proper job nowadays. I speak in general, of course, and am in no way saying that parenting is easy. But even if parental control or some equivalent is established on the phone or iPad, the younger generations always find a way around it.
On an academic level, I think such portable technology is more hindrance than help. In my second lecture this morning, I noticed two students using their iPads to play video games instead. We’re (mostly) past 18 when we reach university and I think it’s a safe assumption that we are meant to be responsible and have the discipline to not play video games for an entire lecture. But some of us can’t. Can we really expect children to focus on academics when such a wide range of distractions is also at their fingertips?
Still, it’s a change. We’ll see where that leads us.