As Technology Evolves… So Does Education. Does it?

I saw this blog post a couple days ago in WordPress’ Freshly Pressed (as usual) and not long after that, I came across this post as well.

So, the first post tells how the era have now changed. With the advanced of the technology development, children nowadays have become the iPad generation (or iPad-ers generation?–I don’t even know whether such terms exist). These days, children are even more advanced than some of us adults in using the electronic devices, such as cell phone, computers, notebook, and iPad, especially. I once questioned myself (and my friends) whether this is a sign of a degeneration, but we agreed (as well as the author’s statement) that it’s not a degeneration. It’s merely a change of era. Just like when horseback era were being replaced by cars and motorcycles, and so now electronic devices are starting to take the roles of the manual handouts and materials in the educational field. Everything now is self-accessed. Responding to the success of iPad and the popularity of it, I guess now education needs to accept the change and adapt to it. Again, everything is now self-accessed. Children (and parents) can now find many educational applications in their iPad. I haven’t got one, but I’m hoping soon enough (crossing fingers!) so I could see and experience it for myself. It might be useful for me as a teacher as well, right? Right? I’m trying to convince myself, here.

Anyway, so many things have changed. And with changes, adapting and adjusting follow. Similar theme was being discussed in this post as I came across it not long after I read the first one.

Children now have learned to use and operate electronic devices, perhaps even before they could speak (well, I don’t know for sure. It depends on the parents, I guess). And I guess that includes the possibility that children nowadays are learning to type in their flat-surfaced iPad or cell phone even before they could write very well. Oh well, now it’s still minor cases, I guess. But regarding the second post, some parents even now considering handwriting is not that important anymore since now is the typing generation. Perhaps it’s not that they think children shouldn’t learn how to write anymore, but that children don’t need to be taught how to write in cursive anymore.

I remember learning about this back in elementary school, and, oh, how I hate it and love it at the same time. I hated it because my teacher never really compliment my handwriting. I’ve been practicing and tried to make my handwriting as beautiful as possible, you know! That’s the part that I loved. But then I hate it again because I prefer typing. My dad taught me how to type when I was 9 year-old, and, boy, how I love the sound of the keyboard ticking when I touch it to type. I’m a nerd, yeah, I knew that.

The thing is, as mentioned in the article, experts believe that handwriting help boosting the brain’s performance as the handwriting skills actually drills the brain to memorize things and “aid the fine motor-skill development.” (How Handwriting Trains the Brain)

Even the attitude and manner on writing itself teach you something else.

My "laoshi" (老师) told me that we better keep the brush straight as we write.

When I was learning Mandarin back in high school, my teacher, a native Chinese, told me that there’s a reason why Chinese write their calligraphy using the brush (remember the Taiwanese/Chinese TV series Princess of Pearl? Or Curse of the Golden Flower where the setting of the movies and series were back in the ancient Chinese when Monarchy still exist and the Great Wall of China had just been built? Then the characters turn to their table and write a letter using a brush with a specific manner and attitude, remember that part?) –she told me that Chinese children were taught that kind of writing ever since they were very little, and even as they grew older, only some people, if not a few, could master the technique very well. The attitude itself is very tiring and frustrating, if we’re not familiar with it yet. Especially for children whose minds are still full of playing hide-and-seek or tag with their classmates, imagine that. But as they were “forced” to learn the technique, they learned about patience in learning it itself. Not to mention steadiness as they become more and more familiar with it, of course.

This is how you write the word "Ai," meaning "Love," and it's also the last part of my Chinese name! (郑天爱)
Writing in iPad

Therefore, I’m referring back to the second article here, as the technology itself improve, comes the adjusting and the adapting. As iPad become more and more popular among people, and typing is starting to replace handwriting, some applications have been created as well in order to prevent handwriting from extinction. Now, even children can learn how to write in cursive with their iPad–with kindergartens have started to provide the typical apps to teach their little students to learn to write in cursive. I haven’t tried the apps yet (remember I said I don’t own an iPad right now? Hopefully soon. I’m crossing my fingers once again), but reading the post, I think it’s really nice and interesting. I can’t wait to try it for myself soon. Very soon.

So, changes are not always bad, right?

With applications, comes handwriting.

I can’t wait to see how education will evolve with more tech developments in the next 20 years.

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English + Technology = Teaching?

Lately, in Indonesia, more and more school has been using English to teach their students. For almost every subject, every teacher is encouraged to use English most of the time: to explain things, to ask question, to answer students’ answer, to give assignments, and also to instruct the students.

More and more parents demand English as the main language used in their children’s school, so every school tried their best to train their teacher and sent them to study English. As long as he/she can say, “Good morning, children,” or, “Any question?” or, “Understand?” the I-dunno-who-the-superior-one in the school will assume that the teacher has mastered English already. So, with all those good-morning-thingy, those teachers go back to their school and teach the students with whatever English they have learned in I-dunno-where.

Another thing that has been added alongside English is technology. The sophistication level, of course, depends on how much money the school could have. The bigger school with bigger funds (usually in big cities) got more facilities, and I’m not only talking about the quality, but also the quantity. As for smaller schools, with smaller funds… they got… well, whatever they could get. Serious.

The must-have one recently is of course laptop and LCD. No LCD? No probs, use whiteboard. No laptop? No probs, the school will provide, at least one. No electricity? Oops. Now that’s a problem.

Here’s two things to point out:

  1. English doesn’t rule everything.
    Yes, I know, with English, more doors are opened for you–(I have to cross that out considering some people that I know with bad English, yet they are the ones who got the scholarship ticket to the States)
    More and more people are seeking English, yes, I know. And I gotta admit, English has the prestige, especially for Indonesian. You can get a better job with English, and if you can speak English properly, people consider you as… educated. Serious.
    But I simply don’t see the point of trying to use English for teaching if you don’t even understand English. You hardly understand what you’re saying, and I’m not sure the students understand you either. Students with good English are confused with the messed-up English, and students who think they are bad in English don’t bother to listen to the English explanation. They already have the I-dun-understand-English-at-all-mindset.
    What’s the point of trying to compete with other school by using English, if your students don’t understand any of your explanations, and even worse, they get more and more confused?
  2. Technology is cool, but it’s not an angel sent from heaven.
    Every student teacher who is doing their micro-teaching now have to own a laptop. Or if you can’t own it, borrow it.
    Indeed, technology brings better education. Technology makes better AVAs. Technology helps. A LOT.
    But I’ve seen many friends (including teachers, sorry) who got used of technology, and they end up becoming more and more dependent on technology.
    Technology makes us look more sophisticated and… professional. I agree. But once a blackout happen, you’re doomed. Not so much sophisticated and professional anymore, aye?
    As more people rely everything on technology (so do I, actually), technology rules everything.
    Well, actually, electricity does.
    They end up feeling so left out in front of the class, looking puzzled, dunno what or how to explain the materials since everything is in flashdisk, or laptop, or computer.
    The bad news: if you’re a student teacher, you cannot runaway from that situation..
    The good news: if you’re a teacher already, you can always say, “I’m really-really sorry, but I would probably have to cancel the class today since everything that I have prepared is inside the computer/laptop, and due to technical problem, I can’t turn it on, so I have nothing for you right now.”
    That’s for the blackout case.
    The other thing I’ve noticed is that some teachers try to use technology while they actually know nothing about technology (a.k.a. “gaptek” in bahasa Indonesia). They don’t understand technology, they don’t know how to operate the gadgets, and they end up confused and puzzled in front of the class, struggling with the laptop. The file is 2007 Word Document (.docx), while the computer/laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word 2007 in it. They thought it’s a virus. Or they simply stated, “I’m sorry, I can’t open the document.”
    Well, that’s just one example. One of the worst. Some are not that bad.
    I probably sounded like mocking those teachers, and I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to.
    What I’m trying to say here is that teachers shouldn’t have rely everything on technology. We still have human resources. We can do many things without technology. Always prepare a backup plan in case the technology won’t cooperate with you. No electricity? So what? No computer/notebook? Doesn’t matter. Still got a pair of hands and feet, a mouth, two ears, two eyes, and complete body parts.

One more additional: if people insist on using English and technology more (well, they do, indeed), at least think of a real intensive training in both English and technology. Don’t get satisfied too fast with “Are you understand?” or the simple click on a desktop shortcut yet you can’t anywhere further from the desktop. If you wanna use English, at least learn some grammar! If you wanna use the technology, master the gadget first! For your own sakes, anyway. And it helps you gain more confidence and appreciation.