I’m writing this from a netbook that’s fully functioning, connected to a network, and set up in a classroom watching 31 kids who have voluntarily given up summer free time to attend summer school. (Okay, I know “voluntarily” may be a bit of a stretch. Some of these kiddos were volunteered by their parents.) Some are making up credits, some are working to get a little ahead.
This morning, we’re sitting around staring at each other. Our Internet server is still asleep and we’re waiting on a tech to take care of us. Other than having a couple ask if they have to stay since they can’t work anyway, everyone’s entertaining themselves. We’ve got solitaire and pinball going on some computers. It’s kind of nice in here. Beats being in the summer heat.
But it’s bugging me that we’ve basically lost instruction time. In the interest of efficiency and expediency, and well..cost-effectiveness….we’ve eliminated teachers actually teaching credit classes. At least in summer school. I can’t help but think that if we’d put all the kids in similar subjects in a room with a teacher, that some teaching and learning could have been happening for the last 45 minutes, as opposed to honing our solitaire skills. (Which is important for life, you know?) I could come up with some throw-down activity, but I’m monitoring the learning of 31 students taking 11 different subjects. How exactly do I make the telephone game relevant to all of them? Might as well circle up for some duck-duck-goose.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about technology. Love it. I have more technology at my fingers—and know how to use it and implement its use in the classroom—than I ever imagined having. I love using it as a tool when working with my teachers and students. But what happened to just teaching? I still think that more often than the computer gurus would like, the best teaching comes from paper and pencil tasks and chalk on a chalkboard (or the equivalent). We depend on the technology so much we’re hamstrung when it fails us.
I’m not any better in my personal life. I mean, I own a regular laptop at home plus this netbook, plus an iPhone. Yesterday, I got a little frantic when I realized my phone was so completely out of juice that I actually had to wait 20 minutes for it to have enough to support my email checking and texting while plugged in to charge. Sigh.