Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

PostHeaderIcon A few sleepless nights…

Since the Florida school shooting, I have woken up a few times in the middle of the night and walked up to my children’s rooms. As I saw them fast asleep, I thought of those parents who lost their sons and daughters in what was once an inconceivable event, but has, in recent times, become a somewhat usual occurrence in the schools of today. I’ve been troubled — as a parent, as a teacher and as a human being. I know I share the same sentiments as everyone reading this.

These kinds of events lead us to thinking of the why, and while we all are entitled to our opinions, there has to be a plan in place to fix this broken part of our societal structure. I am of the opinion that the common man who is not in military or armed forces should not have such ease of access to firearms. While this isn’t the only matter of concern, here’s something I have been thinking, only that someone else said it before me about the “guns don’t kill people, people do” argument: well cars don’t kill people either but we have excellent car control laws to limit people killing themselves and others and when that fails we have mandatory insurance to provide coverage for losses incurred (excerpt from another Facebook user’s comment).

It’s like that touchy technology topic… kids and gadgets. Technology isn’t bad but unless we have rules and consequences laid out for our kids, technology can be misused or overused. If we set proper guidelines and train kids to utilize technology as a tool, they can become developers and programmers and engineers and scientists or just even prepare sophisticated documents for school and college.

So then it all comes down to parenting or the lack of it. It comes down to community and our moral values. It comes down to what I read a long time ago: The difference between a successful person and the one who isn’t — is what they do in their free time. It’s about the company you keep and the books you read. It’s about manners and ethics, and about social consciousness. It’s about people getting so busy that they forget to stop and reflect. It’s about the lack of connections and the ongoing race with ourselves to reach an unknown destination. It’s about confusing our goals with finding contentment. It’s about taking all that time trying to change everyone instead of first fixing ourselves. It’s about not being available for our children because we are so busy trying to build them a material world without building them and their mindsets first.

I don’t have answers or solutions but I want to be part of the change as much as you all do. I hope that as a teacher I don’t ever have to barricade my classroom doors and protect my students. I hope all our children can go to school to learn and mingle blissfully with their peers without fear of undesirable intruders. This is as real as it gets, but guess what, if we take ownership of this world we call ours, then perhaps we can experience the change we’re looking for.

PostHeaderIcon The Technophobia beast that lies within us.

It’s naive of parents today to think that if their child can find an app on an iPad or swipe unlock a phone, they now know how to use a computer. Technology is commonly associated with gaming but in reality, technology is a vast term that includes such a diverse array of offerings. I teach 140 students every week and only a handful come with an understanding of the productivity aspect of technology. These are the kids who know more than just downloading games on their parent’s tablet and charging it. It’s the 21st century. Children encounter technology in every area of their lives, be it at school or home and whether we like it or not, technology plays a formative role in the development of a child today. Our refrigerators and vehicles and laundry machines are all intelligent machines, and so it just makes sense that our children understand how things work and even consider learning how to utilize these tools to their advantage. 

It is not bad omen to read on a Kindle. Yes I like to smell the pages in a book. I understand that phenomenal goose-bump inducing event of touching a matte cover with raised print. It is almost like getting drawn into an intergalactic wormhole and becoming one with the book. But if we drop the baggage of technophobia, we will realize that there is great convenience associated with it. Managing a calendar, creating lists and receiving timely notifications has never been easier. I can finally declutter my refrigerator and be done with the hundred stickies that were wallpapered on it. I can track the whereabouts of my children when they are away from home or share my schedule with my family so they know what my day looks like. Taking it a step further, have you ever thought about building a digital portfolio showcasing your accomplishments? It would be so easy to share it at multiple levels. Think about the ease of access! What about taking up blogging as a hobby and developing writing skills?

Breaking news: school state exams are now mostly online. Why do you think that such a transition has been made? Because this is how there can be more effective grading; it saves costs and allows fair judgement; there are accommodations for kids with special needs, there’s more uniformity. So if a kid can’t see well, there is an option to zoom in the text, or if a child’s primary language isn’t English, multiple language options are available and the questions can be read out on the child’s headphones. These are just a few examples. We are now using technology in our schools to help kids with learning disabilities. Today’s teaching methods involve blended learning experiences where students can access global knowledge right from their devices and use collaborative tools in the classroom. We are now past the stage where we argue if technology is affecting our cognitive skills. It is now up to us to determine effective ways to incorporate the many uses and benefits associated with the many facets of technology.

The use of technology is an additional skill every child needs to learn. It by no means replaces the conventional pencil and paper. But every generation adds on a new skill, and for us it is the productive use of technology.

My advice for parents of today is to look at technology as a productivity tool. Their exposure can be limited and defined so there’s a balance and method to the madness we see today. Embrace the trends that are relevant to the changing needs of the times and look into inspiring children to become innovative leaders of tomorrow. Our children are the future workforce where Big Data and Artificial Intelligence will make up a huge percentage of the jobs to come. What John Dewey said many years ago, makes total sense now: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” Doesn’t it?