School is Cool

When my son T starts year 11 next year, he won’t be hefting around a heavy backpack, weighed down with textbooks. Instead he’ll be tapping out notes and flipping electronic pages on a glossy iPad. This device will be pre loaded with electronic textbooks and other online resources. The idea is to eliminate textbooks and paper homework, and make all of his coursework available with the swipe of finger.

On the whole, I think this is a terrific idea. Learning will become more fun and engaging and tech savvy. Plus, the kids will probably feel mega cool walking around with those things. The devices are small and portable, which makes them easy to use for educational activities anywhere – including outside the classroom and on field trips. There is also the advantage that he won’t have to lug twenty kilos of textbooks home in his school bag. I must admit, I love my lightweight Kindle.

But I do have some mixed feelings about this. There must be a change in a child’s perception of reality, when everything exists on a screen and nothing is tangible. There is a reason why Montessori schools make so much effort for children to have a tactile experience of the world. I’d like to see any sort of electronic learning, balanced with some sort of physical one. Maybe the kids also need to spend an hour a day playing ping pong, riding bicycles, writing on a whiteboard or practicing penmanship. Or maybe, I’m just showing my age.

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