No More Excuses; Students Should Be Using Tools From 2018

Last night I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Yeah I know, not the most wholesome movie, don’t judge. Anyway at one point of the movie the main characters, Paul (or Fred) and Holly run around NYC doing things they have never done before. I was laughing at the library because they had this huge card catalog. I’m thinking about how much everything has changing thanks to technology. But the next scene they go to a 5 & 10 store. The purpose of the scene was to steal something. But they were walking around this table full of items and immediately I realized it was all school supplies. Three ring binders, ruled paper for the binders, packs of pencils, pens, etc. Only thing missing is poster board. All of these are things found in my child’s backpack right now in February 2018, not 1961 (Actually the movie was a flashback so late 1940s).

Let me tell you about February 2018 and you’ll see why I have a problem with this. On Feb 6, Falcon Heavy was launched. This one launch has changed the future of space travel. In one launch we became closer to humans on Mars. Not only that, the rockets landed back on the ground on a perfect bullseye. Last week I watched the Olympics in 360 with virtual reality. I got to see what it would be like to be on side of a mountain with snowboarders while they compete. This month students at Hillview Elementary not only programmed robots to compete in Olympic events they had never heard about a year ago, but got curling advice for their robot by an US Olympian via Twitter. I saw students with special needs design 3D objects on computers and 3D print the designs. The same students created a dance music video. The list could keep going on with stuff I have seen students doing on Twitter everyday. Who knows what other cool stuff will happen before the end of the month, we still have a few days and Elon Musk still has ideas.

So do you see a contrast? You know what else happened in February 2018? I learned of many schools around the country that are still banning student cell phones and other devices. It’s easier to ban it than to teach them how to use correctly. A parent was complaining that she was having to buy poster paper (again) for a high school project (here is a list of alternatives to posters).  As I was writing this, a friend told me about her child having to hand write 3 copies of an essay, could not use the devices she bought for him to use at school. Schools don’t want to deal with the drama. Kids are going to have drama no matter what medium. Here is the problem with skipping teaching and banning tech: 1. It’s their lives and their future. 2. They are going to use them anyway but have not been taught how to use the power correctly. 3. They are missing out on learning. It’s our job as educators to find ways to support our students and teach them how to live in this world they are part of, the world that lands rockets back on earth. They have to learn why they can’t do things. They need to know how these powerful devices can benefit their learning. They need to stop wasting time looking up stuff in dictionaries when we could be teaching them the correct way to Google something. Teach them how to correctly record and post videos than ignoring the fact that they have already posted videos that are probably dumb and embarrassing.

Something also happened in February 2018. Seventeen teachers and students were killed at a high school in Florida. Students used their phones to call for help and even to tell their parents they love them. Banning tech could mean that a parent could miss out on that last “I love you” because schools don’t want to deal with phone drama. Since this horrible event students around the country have used social networks to connect and plan protest and share their story. Were you aware of this or were you just going to wonder where your students were on April 20?

It is time to stop using excuses like “I am not techy” or “The kids just don’t know how to handle it” and start being leaders that not only prepare their students for the future but also for the world they already live in.