Monday, October 7, 2013

Overcoming apathy in students

Recently, I was having a discussion with another edtecher regarding 1:1 rollouts and student responses. In my own experience with rolling out 1:1 laptops at the 9th and 10th grade level, I had experienced similar reactions - apathy. When students were handed a nearly $700 device, they were emotionless. And, when they were asked to think of dream jobs, they were dumbfounded. And, when they were asked to type on the keyboard, they were stuck. Why - in this generation of "digital natives" would students be apathetic and lackluster in regards to technology? These students represent the America we are producing, the jobs we are securing, and any innovation.

When I work with students at the elementary school, I am revered as almost a "tech god." They are passionate and they can give you ideas of all of the careers they would like to pursue. If they don't know how to do something, they will ask and they will problem solve. In fact, they have many of the skills we want in our future leaders.

So, what happens between early schooling and high school? What is flawed so that our students, on the brink of entering their adult lives, are apathetic? As a former high school English teacher, my students used to comment that the books in the secondary curriculum were all dark whereas elementary reading was about learning, exploring, and growing. And, perhaps that is true as well. I think back to my curriculum - and it was a lot of literature of the past and literature reflective of hard times. Though, I like to think that cannot be the only reason.

Is it that we have been giving our students too much credit for being digital natives that we have failed to teach them the skills necessary to be successful? This is what rings most true for me. We shower them with devices and think that, because they are using a variety of devices, they know and understand the skills necessary to use them and to make a valuable contribution to society.

The problem, though, remains. How do we reach these kids who are on the brink of adulthood who are apathetic? Are they apathetic or have we failed to instill in them skill sets to empower them? Do we teach tools and shower them with tools and mistake that for literacy? Do we just throw in a tool and use it in the same regard as what they would have done in the past?

My aim is to find solutions to connect teachers around the world who face this same problem. Though, throwing technology at the situation will not solve it - I don't believe - using technology to collaborate and network with other educators may. Using the power of crowd-sourcing ideas and resources, can we work to redirect these students and re-map our educational framework?

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