I have been deeply involved in our educational system for the past 20 years. I don’t need to convince you that this system is broken. If you have a child in school or a teenager in college, you already know it. Everyone knows that our educational system is on the edge of collapse, and the irony is that we keep doing the same mistakes over and over expecting to obtain different results. I don’t believe in miracles but it looks like our leaders and politicians do. I see and feel the deterioration of the system on a daily basis.
The old fashioned educational system developed from this past century needs a serious overhaul. In this system we conveniently defined boundaries across each discipline and labeled them distinctively in buckets by discipline such as math, physics, engineering, art, economics and history. In today’s fast track global economy, modern technology is naturally part of education, but our traditional distinctive disciplines in education does not recognize this fact. We have to throw out the old fashion educational system and replace it with modern multi-disciplinary system, which is built on foundation of technology.
There is no denial that technology has helped people become more efficient. This efficiency has translated to improving our productivity, a trend that started 20 years ago and seems to be unstoppable.
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.
Now here comes Generation X-Y-Z. Many could say the anti-social generations in which their communication, behavior and role models were defined and confined in geeky electronic devices such as the iPhone. According to the New York Times, the Pew Research Center found:
- Half teenagers in the U.S. —ages 12 through 17 — send 50 or more text messages a day and that one third send more than 100 a day.
- Two thirds of the texters surveyed said that they were more likely to use their cell phones to text friends than to call them.
- Fifty-four percent said they text their friends once a day, but only 33 percent said they talk to their friends face-to-face on a daily basis.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reported similar findings a few months earlier stating that “Americans between 8 and 18 years old spend on average 7 1/2 hours a day using some sort of electronic device, from smart phones to MP3 players to computers — a number that shocked many adults, even those who stay attached to their Blackberries during most waking hour.”
Most of the focus related to the over-use of technology has been centered on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Additionally, concern about the social repercussions centered on cyber-bullying or sexting (sexually explicit text messages). However, not much emphasis has been put on a more concerning phenomenon: whether technology is impacting kids’ social interactions, social development and friendships.
Today, technology is like a cold virus. You touch it, you get it. It is extremely user-friendly and easy to launch and if you don’t have it, you are living in a different world.
We can not 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, theater, etc. We used to have those programs but now they have become non-existent.
Read part II of this article and see why these social programs in our schools are essential. Without these programs, we will produce robots, not skillful humans!
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