In my last article, “Thanks to technology, we graduate robots, not humans,” I discussed the broken educational system and impact of technology on children who seem to lack social skills and development.
I am a big advocate for integration of technology in our educational system. However, on the downside, technology has also made us act more like robots ―cold, uncaring and methodical ―instead of empathetic, warm and human. It seems like technology and social skills are in a tug of war against each other.
We cannot avoid technology in the future of our educations system. However, integration of technology should be accomplished by providing many social, interactive programs in our schools, such as dance, music, physical activities and theater. We used to have those programs but now they have become non-existent.
Programs like dance have numerous benefits to childhood development. For example, the National Dance Education Organization outlines the developmental benefits for a growing child because dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. The organization detailed the benefits:
Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and kinesthetic memory as well as provides total body fitness.
Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of themselves and others through creative movement.
Social Awareness: Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation. Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic. As the ongoing and sometimes challenging process of cooperation evolves, children learn to understand themselves in relation to others.
Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with a movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea, problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and ultimately adult to function in and understand the world.
Although math, science and technology are important for childhood education, our education system and society cannot minimize how critical social development is on the success of adults. A colleague of mine who managed large teams of engineers once told me that his major problem with his engineers was not only the lack of proper training, but also lack of social skills. He wished his technical team members were more outgoing and socially likable. So we must rethink the education direction. In the current direction, as the education system continues to cut social programs and as technology advances, we will produce robots, not socially skillful humans. And in the long-term this trend will have negative consequences for our U.S. economy as these students enter the workforce unable to adapt to the interactive side.
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