op-eds

Electronics in the Classroom

DSC_0003As the U.S. transitions toward the Digital Age of smartphones, tablets and iWatches, educators are struggling to implement an appropriate policy for the use of technology in the classroom.

There are two stances: Ban it all or welcome it with open arms.

Those who see electronic devices as a distraction argue that it is difficult to engage students in their coursework. The average attention span of a human being is three seconds, about five seconds less than that of a goldfish. This makes it nearly impossible to keep an entire class’s focus for an hour and a half. Children’s attention is constantly being pulled towards Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, which are unrelated to Shakespeare’s sonnets or the Pythagorean theorem.

In opposition, some teachers see technology as a window of opportunity. Almost any problem can be solved with the pressing of a few buttons, and knowledge is available to those with an electronic device. The Internet allows the classroom to move at an unprecedented speed because researching text in the library no longer hinders students.

The age of the child seems to play a part in the debate as well. Greeneville High School allows phones in class at the permission of the teacher. Its feeder school, Greeneville Middle, requires that all phones be turned off and left in the child’s locker during school hours. High school students are expected to be more responsible and not succumb to the temptation of their social media accounts, yet they are only one to four years older than middle school students. It is doubtful that a single year can increase the self-control of a teenager enough to change the school’s policy.

In reflection, electronics should be allowed in schools as long as teachers are willing to incorporate the technology into their lesson plans. Students need to learn how to filter through new information, multitask and resist temptations. These are skills that they will have to master if they are to succeed in the real world.

People like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs created this technology so that it would be used, not admired.

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