Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Old Fashioned Alternative to Education Apps

By Sean Scarpiello

These days, young students have easy access to all kinds of technology. Some schools have tablets and laptops for their students, while many students have access to a tablet or computer at home. With so much technology at their fingertips, students are always on their device. Yet while there is a growing availability of educational apps and programs on these devices, there are so many other apps that draw in young minds. For many grade school students, games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush are seconds away. For high school and college students, these games along with social media apps are available with the tap of their finger.

Looking back to when I was a child, video games were only accessible on a TV or desktop computer and socializing with friends meant meeting up in the neighborhood. Since there are so many other activities to take part in on their devices, many young students flock to games and social media when they are both at home, on the go, or relaxing. One way that this is a concern is  all of this technology takes away from one of the best ways to learn- reading a book. In the past, a lot of my peers in school would read for fun. If we were on a bus, in a car, at home, or on a beach we would relax by reading. When I look around now, it seems like people are too plugged into the internet and do not relax by reading a book. While it now seems like an old fashioned way to learn, reading is proven to increase vocabulary, develop writing skills, improve critical thinking, and so much more.

This lack of reading is already a huge problem. Some surveys now show that around 80% of college students change their major. When I was recently talking to a friend who was facing difficulty settling on a major, I asked him what he enjoys reading. His response was that he doesn’t really read anything. He never sat down to read a book for leisure or to learn about something that interests him. And while this is just one example, this lack of reading among young students is pervasive. The reason for this could be traced back to such easy availability to technology. Instead of curling up with a book on a rainy day, young students are relaxing by staring at their phones, playing the latest version of mindless games or viewing social media.

How can this be changed? Teachers in schools should get students to read more about individual interests. I had a reading teacher in middle school that had a huge bookshelf with books on all kinds of topics. We were required to read 20 minutes each day, but we were able to choose what we wanted to read. He had everything from science fiction to biographies. If at any point we became bored or uninterested in a book, it was perfectly acceptable to pick out a new book. In other classes, I observed many of my classmates hating to read the assigned pages from the book the teacher chose in the beginning of the year. Therefore, when we were able to choose what we wanted to read about, there was much less resistance to reading and more emphasis on learning.

Overall, while it is important to introduce the latest technologies into the classroom to improve education, sometimes the old fashioned ways still work the best. By having students  put their phones down to read a book, students can develop their own interests. In addition  reading will improve  their thinking, writing, and so much more.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the worst choice is to NOT read books at all, for that's where, at least so far, humanity stored its knowledge and wisdom. Not tapping these rich sources of mind blowing experiences and thoughts, In my honest opinion, is really a self-imposed deprivation of good healthy mental nourishment

Anonymous said...

Maybe one suggestion still could be made in this regard, i.e. that books ARE available and CAN be read right on your laptop, tablet or iPhone, which, as a matter of fact, I am doing all the time.  Not only that, you can have them read to you, in a multitude choice of voices if you wish, and listen through your ear phones or for anyone to hear.  There are oodles and oodles of books to download which are free, and the others are certainly far less expensive than if you had to buy them in hard cover.  Plus, if you have poor or failing eye sight, like me, you can blow up the text to readable size, or as already mentioned, have your computer readers read them to you.