Friday, June 6, 2014

Electronic Media

"The average young person from 8 to 19 now spends literally every waking moment outside of school on the Internet, watching TV, listening to music on MP3 players, texting, or using some other electronic device ...an average of seven and a half hours daily ... Those who spent the most time consuming media had markedly poorer grades and more behavioral problems." (Kaiser Foundation reported in The Week Vol 10 Iss 449)

Much discussion on 21st century education has centered around the use(s) of new technologies, and in particular of electronic media, and some of the proponents of re-designing education for the coming century have been criticised as wanting to drive sales thereof. Surely, 21st century education means developing the values and skills our children will need to confront an uncertain and unpredictable world.

The quotation above must give us all pause. Notice how media consumption is largely passive, and where not, it is at best responsive. The article went on to say that these children's parents had no idea what their children were doing, and chronically underestimated the time spent on media consumption.

I believe that students should be :
  • active
  • creative
  • generative
which are all Values; we also want them to develop lifelong habits, or Skills.

In curricular terms, an elementary IT programme should based on keyboarding and computer use, and later in high school on programming, the use of CAD and so on. Elementary classrooms should not have internet; students should learn research skills from books, CD-ROMs or selected downloads. They should never watch complete videos or movies in class; clips should be chosen to illustrate a specific point or be accompanied by specific tasks. And so on.

Ultimately, school is preparation for life and success comes from who our children are (values) and what they can do (skills). Media consumption should be no more than a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

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