So, they run articles like this one in the Washington Post:
Joe Clement has been teaching U.S. government in a Fairfax County high school for 21 years. He is troubled by crumbling student responses since smartphones and other such devices were allowed a few years ago.
Before the invasion of the bright, little screens, his lesson on the Federalist Papers and the birth of political parties invariably “spawned one of the best discussions of the year,” he said. Students dug into not just what happened but also why they formed.
That’s gone, he said, even in honors courses. He still asks how Madison’s vision for minority rights is carried out today. But instead of thoughtful responses connecting the past and today, Clement usually gets non-answers — a Federalist Papers quote with no reference to today or something about modern minority rights with no link to Madison.
“They are good at telling me the who, what, where and when — anything Google can tell them,” Clement said. “The ability to make connections seems to have vanished.”
Clement and another Fairfax County teacher, Matt Miles, are writing a book about this decline in critical thinking as digital technologies grow. They admit they have mostly anecdotal data, but they are certain that brain research eventually will back them up.
They say the free periods that are part of their school schedule have deteriorated from lively talk among students and teachers to silent screen reading, each student in a little world. Online homework assignments are taking twice as long as they would if the student read a paper textbook, because programs are sometimes difficult to load and students cannot resist the temptation to play around on the same devices.
I have discussed parents’ complaints about school-assigned screen time. Some research seems to suggest too much of it reduces achievement. But Clement and Miles have given me the most vivid insights I have gotten so far from teachers. I would like more — my e-mail address is below — both from teachers who like the new devices and those who don’t.
Fairfax County schools spokesman John Torre said district officials think learning and electronics are interacting nicely, and he said data shows test scores are up at the school where these teachers work. “Teachers during classes, and for enrichment and intervention periods, can determine the type of technology and the frequency of use,” he said.
But, The Motley Monk would opine, that's to miss the most important point.
Brushing aside the fact that parents are the primary and best educators of their children (schools are not), here's what Pope Francis thinks parents should really be worrying about:
The important thing is not our neighbor....[leading to] a kind of radical loneliness that so many experience today....Loneliness with a fear of commitment.
Certainly not something made by man.
Sadly, all too many young people today don't have the "experience" of family for which their souls long and indefatigably seek to fill that void with everything else that promises to but will never fill that void.
As Pope Francis noted in his homily at the concluding Mass of the World Meeting of Families:
These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, [by siblings]. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to [grow in] faith.
Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.
Perhaps it's time for parents to perform a little "examination of conscience." What are they doing to provide the first and best instruction that's absolutely necessary for their children to fill what otherwise could become a bottomless void?
It's much easier for parents to purchase all of the lastest technology to give their children a "one up" and then worry about the potential negative impacts technology may have upon the academic success of their children. But, in light of Pope Francis' observations, shouldn't parents be worrying more about the potential impacts that technology may have upon the souls of their children before purchasing any technology for their children and regulating its use?
(A "Tip of the Hat" to Andrew Rosenberger for the video link.)
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link: