Classrooms are different places than they were a generation ago — even five years ago. Gone are the chalkboards, and even the dry-erase boards; in their place in many classrooms now are Promethean boards, which hook directly to a computer and allow the teacher and students to interact, real-time, with remote controls.
Not only are the clunky computers in the corner of the classroom being replaced with high-tech computer labs, laptops are being issued to students. Elementary school-age kids are doing their homework by computer, and parents are accessing their grades, and tracking their progress, online.
Parents aren”t writing notes to teacher, sending them by way of little Johnny — who may or may not deliver it, depending on the trouble he”s in. Parents and teachers are emailing each other, even texting.
And the latest development to all this technology? Heritage Academy Elementary, through a grant, landed iPod Touches for its first-graders.
Some of us who weren”t even allowed to use calculators in our high-school math classes might be jealous, and even a bit baffled, by all this. (So might some of the teachers, who are dealing with the fact that the students know more about some of these classroom implements than they do.)
This is an age-old concern. Technology will always march forward, and our students need to march along with it.
We believe, however, that nothing will ever replace the guidance of a good teacher. The personal connection between teacher and student, not the latest iBook or iPod, is the most important part of the classroom experience.
In a story on this subject yesterday, Heritage Academy Elementary principal Yandell Harris summed things up nicely: “I can see maybe down the road there won”t be any books. But there”s nothing like teaching and instruction time with the teacher. Our teachers still teach.”
As long as that remains true, bring on the iPods.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.