Repairing and Rebuilding the Modern Classroom

In the modern technological era we live in, the advancement of technology and media is increasing every day. These new advancements can no longer be kept up with as technology is omnipresent in the world we live in. Although technology and digital media are used more often to socialize, the quality of communication is not improving. In today’s world, people are becoming obsessive over social media and obtaining the “latest and greatest” products. Nowadays, a large portion of communication occurs through multimedia platforms such as text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter. I believe technology and social media are effective within limitations. The advantages of modern forms of communication include the speed of spreading information to mass groups of people, gaining connections, and receiving news quickly. While all of this is beneficial, technology sometimes is used as a crutch — not an enhancement — which negatively affects interpersonal skills. Within Spelman’s work Repair she explains why we must hold a strong connection to our past in order to progress. In this case the school system must teach the dying art of communication skills before students can truly reap all the benefits from technology integration in schools.

One of the reasons we should focus on increasing communication and interpersonal skills is because they are vital skills you need your entire life.

“According to national surveys, a variety of communication skills consistently top lists of what employers consider the most desirable personal traits. These skills needed to succeed in the world of work can be cultivated in early education.” [1]

Since many schools are not providing students with proper communication skills the students are consistently being sent into a world they cannot excel in.

Technology is overwhelmingly integrated in every aspect of society. I agree that technology is an effective advancement for the next generation however, communication of the previous generation must still be stressed to optimize communications in the modern world. Nowadays, some elementary schools are giving students iPads as young as six year olds. This is concerning since technology could become a distraction if it is not used within limitation. I believe introducing an iPad to kids for educational purposes is unsuccessful because young children are lacking interpersonal skills that need to be cultivated through classroom interactions. Stressing the use of technology from a young age makes these kids accustomed to this style of learning.

There has recently been a mass implementation of iPads within schools nationwide. These young kids need to learn traditional learning styles before they become accustomed to this technology. Studies prove that putting pen to paper improves memorization of concepts much better than simply touching a screen.

It is important in this day in age to understand technology but, should not be the main focus especially for kids. There are educational applications out there that can teach kids how to spell, read, and do math problems in a more interesting digital format by tricking them into doing homework that looks and feels like a video game. However, these educational applications are not as effective if kids are not introduced to traditional learning styles first. Young students should be introduced tocommunication skills such as reading, writing, and listening, as employers see these as some of the most important skills. Even though new education is becoming more and more popular the traditional education is not disappearing. Spelman reinforces the idea that we must stay connected to our past so, we have to continue teaching skills such as writing on paper and reading hard copies because they are very desirable skills today. [2]

Many people have realized the importance of communication skills in everyday life so many schools have implemented programs focused on developing young student’s interpersonal skills. The Kids Communication Program was developed by students at Western Michigan University looking for jobs that realized the value of having strong communication skills. The three main skills of speaking, listening, and media literacy are highlighted in this program. This program also implemented a coloring book that teaches children about expressing their emotions, sharing with others, resolving conflict, listening to others, and understanding nonverbal behaviors. These skills are important for students within the grades of kindergarten to third grade. For the majority of students, this is the first time that they are meeting new friends on their own and learning about social interaction. Communication training at this early age can help the student succeed in school and life. Most importantly, students within this program build true relationships and communication skills that cannot be strengthened the same with a focus on technology.[3]

People that believe online learning is the best method of education in schools, think that technology can enhance productivity for students learning material. The U.S department of education stated, “technology infused classrooms with digital learning tools, expands course offerings, experiences, and learning materials; supports learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; builds 21st century skills; increases student engagement and motivation; and accelerates learning.” Technology also allows instantaneous connections from teacher to student that allows students access to materials and more effective learning. Also, online learning can be more cost effective since textbooks can be very pricey.[4] I agree that technology implementation is important however, I do not believe online skills can provide the same value as traditional schooling. For instance, online schools cannot strengthen communication skills which, are the most sought after skills by employers. For instance, online schooling cannot teach skills such as public speaking that are an important aspect of high school curriculums as it helps develop the student’s communication skills immensely. Online schools can try to imitate these reports and speeches with no prevail since there is no live audience to connect with.

I believe the best way to solve the modern education crisis is to stress group work from a young age. Kids don’t need distracting technology from a young age but, should work together to build real connections and friendships that are much more valuable than potentially misleading online friendships. My best school experiences all involve working with my classmates. Some of my greatest school memories range from arts and crafts projects in elementary school to field trips and science labs during high school.

Field trips are very valuable as it provides a new learning environment. The students are able to learn outside of the classroom which, engages the students and encourages communication between peers.

Even though there is a great disparity between these activities, they were made so interesting because I was able to engage in a topic with my fellow classmates. Online schools cannot provide these same experiences that are so valuable. Therefore, I believe technology should be used merely to teach students to send emails, to share projects easier with a group, to share videos, and as media literacy. Otherwise, technology is not building communication for students but is instead interfering with one’s growth of communication.

Everyone studies differently so one person may prefer to take notes on their laptop and another may prefer to take notes with pen and paper. Thousands of students prefer to learn through online schooling which can be effective but I believe these students are limiting themselves as they will lack communications skills. For instance, the Florida Virtual School is a worldwide online education program that benefits K-12 students worldwide.[5] Even though these students can video chat with each other, this is not promoting personal communication but, instead is giving the students a false sense of connection. According to Cornell University’s Steven Strogatz, “social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between the meaningful relationships we foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed through social media.”[6] I agree that a true relationship is built through face to face connections so, the Florida virtual school is not effective in building strong relationships between students.

I believe that the environment in which learning is presented is vital for a student’s success. A strong learning community with encouraging teachers and faculty make studying and learning much more enjoyable. I do not think an online school provides the same engaging community that schools can implement. The likelihood that students will be motivated and engaged in learning is increased to the extent that their teachers, family, and friends, as well as others who shape the instructional process, effectively support their purposeful involvement in learning (Cohen and Ball, 1999). In my opinion, my peers are my greatest motivator. Communication between students helps each other excel and also pushes each other by competing for better grades. Since class rank was established you have to compete with your peers as you aim for higher grades. If one is taking an online course, there is extrinsic motivation to compete against your peers but there is simply intrinsic motivation to get good grades for self-gratification. According to the views of John Dewey, building an engaging school community is not just a strategy to improve academic outcomes; it is essential to education itself. I agree with this statement completely and I think technology is breaking away the sense of community and unity there is within a school even though technology should be strengthening this unity.[7]

An important aspect of an engaging school community is group work that involves collaborative skills. Group work helps divide complex tasks into more manageable parts and steps. Group work also helps strengthens individual’s communication skills which, is a very valuable real life skill. Group work requires beneficial skills such as open-mindedness when it comes to listening to other members unique perspectives and risk taking when attempting something new as a group. Group work is an effective way to divide a complex task into more manageable segments by delegating roles and responsibilities of each group member. Group work allows each individual to identify their personal skills and weaknesses.[8]

The Florida Online school may have a form of group work but it cannot compare to the group work that a traditional school can provide as they are not testing their communication and personal skills by working collaboratively over the computer. This online group work just simply gives the students a false sense of communication skills.

This relates to Spelman’s book, Repair as she stresses the meaning of repair throughout the book. Spelman defines repair as maintaining a connection to the past in order to move forward. (8) This is exactly what needs to happen in order for the school system to improve. Technology is developing and changing so rapidly that our society is losing track of the traditional schooling that be had successful for hundreds of years. We need to keep moving forward to develop as a society however, we must not lose a connection to our past or skills that were once stressed will diminish. We must adapt our school system accordingly.

This inforgraphic clearly shows the evolution of technology over the past 200 years. In order to repair the school system we must ackowledge the past in order to move forward.

Restoring is the act of reverting back to the original form of the object or idea. We cannot restore the school system because there are benefits to implementing technology in the classroom and we cannot afford to regress. To repair the education system, communication and technology should be paired to enhance learning in the classroom.[9]

Technology has had many positive impacts on our learning communities when used successfully. For instance, technology has been a successful tool that has helped improve autism patient’s communication skills. Children with autism read to robots because they are uncomfortable having to look into the eyes of another person when speaking.

Autism Speaks have given out over 1,000 iPads to better the communication skills of autism patients. Applications such as Proloquo2go that is seen above allows autism students to improve their communication by matching terms to visuals.

These kids also successfully use iPads to develop their motor and cognitive skills as the graphics help obtain their attention and make learning easier.[10] Spelman states, “sometimes we take greater pleasure in having a well-repaired object than an unbroken one”. (6) I think it is positive to keep repairing our school system because that proves we are progressing. If our school system remains unchanged and never needs to be repaired than we are not evolving as we should be.[11]

In support of Spelman’s theory, communication skills must be stressed in schools to keep a connection to the past that is necessary to maximize learning. As technology continues to be implemented in our school system we must not move toward online schooling. Online schooling cannot be completely effective since it does not allow students to strengthen interpersonal skills through group work or public speaking. Also, online schools do not allow kids to express themselves and build real connections the same way learning communities can. This form of education will not provide the same memorable experiences such as group projects, field trips, and science labs. As our society progresses we must stress communication skills from a young age that includes speaking, listening, and media literacy. Overall, our society must not move too fast as we need to stay connected with our past skills in order to truly evolve.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my group members, Savannah, Sarah, Aarif, and Andrea for giving me ideas of repair. My group consistently provided me with support and motivation that allowed me to adjust my ideas in the right direction. I appreciate my groups help for getting me started off on the right foot. I also want to thank Seda for going through my entire essay and marking up parts of my essay that lacked detail. Seda also helped me identify the issues in my paper that I would begin to edit. She let me know I need more examples, a stronger tie to the book, and a new conclusion. I made sure to edit all of this for my meeting with Professor Harris. I appreciate Professor Harris for giving me ideas to relate my topic to Spelman’s book. This was very helpful in clearing up my major concern. Finally, I would like to thank Olivia from the writing center for fine-tuning my paper, strengthening my introduction, and giving me tips to edit my paper even further. Finally, I want to thank my Dad for providing me with motivation to write the best essay I possibly could. He also was another person that helped me edit grammar and wording issues. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s guidance that helped me get to this point.

Work Cited

Edwards, Chad, and Autumn Edwards. “Communication Skills Training for Elementary School Students.” Communication Skills Training for Elementary School Students, 1 Aug. 2009, www.natcom.org/commcurrentsarticle.aspx?id=934.

Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn. Washington, D.C., National Academies Press, 2004.

“Meet FLVS — Online Courses for Students in Grades Kindergarten — 12.” Meet FLVS — Online Courses for Students in Grades Kindergarten — 12, https://www.flvs.net/meet-flvs.

“Hope Technology School.” Hope Technology School, www.hopetechschool.org/assistive-technology/why-is-technology-helpful-for-people-with-autism/.

Spelman, Elizabeth V. Repair: the Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World. Boston, Beacon Press, 2002.

“Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning.” Home, www.ed.gov/oii-news/use-technology-teaching-and-learning.

University, Carnegie Mellon. “What Are the Benefits of Group Work?-Teaching Excellence &Amp; Educational Innovation — Carnegie Mellon University.” What Are the Benefits of Group Work?-Teaching Excellence &Amp; Educational Innovation — Carnegie Mellon University