Striking the Balance…

 

We all use technology, and value the ways that it has enhanced our lives, from the ease of communication,  to the many ways of accessing and sharing of information, to enumerable awesome entertainment opportunities. We also all recognize, that technology can all too easily dominate our days and nights and become a drain on our relationships, initiative and creativity. Our challenge, as educators, is to navigate our learners through this uncharted territory, in such a way as to assist them in reaping the benefits of said technology, and also avoiding the pitfalls. Striking the balance between offering educational opportunities and experiences that make beneficial use of technologies, while also providing ample opportunities for learning which encompasses the learners need for fresh air, physical exercise and creative exploration.

In this Education/Computer class, we have focused on learning about many very interesting and useful tools to assist us with our role as educators. From google docs to support and encourage collaboration among students, to blogging, and other online forums, for assisting learners in getting their work out to an audience,technology is obviously an important aspect of our teaching toolkit. I am not gonna lie, some of our assignments have been a huge challenge for me, as operating computers, and the attendant technology, to interface with the whole of the internet is not something that comes very natural to me… I am not a digital native. That said, I have powered through, and with the assistance of a few of classmates, we have managed to successfully create blogs, generate online interactive surveys, and create our own tutorials for various Google apps, using applications and programs I had not even heard about 6 weeks ago. Big pat on the back to us 🙂

That said, I am still concerned that technology use is far outpacing children’s access to the outdoors, to exercise and to creative and academic pursuits that are not mediated by one sort of screen or another. This of course, is not the fault of technologies in and of them selves, but rather a pervasive symptom of a culture which seems bent on bubble wrapping it’s children and protecting them at all costs from any and all sorts of perceived dangers. Ironically, by choosing to not allow children to run and play outdoors, we are in effect causing their ill health both physically and mentally. This article does a better job than I at outlining and documenting these facts: Is Technology to Blame?

 

 

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Playing around is serious business

a young artist at work

My brothers and I were homeschooled on the shores of beautiful Birch Lake Saskatchewan, by our creative, idealistic and well educated parents. In our house there was no TV, piles of books (and weekly trips to the library); our toys and other materials were chosen in order to stimulate creativity, and constructive activities, such as paints and paper, wooden blocks and Lego bricks. There was no curriculum to follow, but the only activities available were educational… so we were always learning even though we did not realize it. We were encouraged to be self motivated and self determined, and for this purpose our parents allowed us to choose to attend the small town school if and when we wanted to.

My brother, Lief, chose to go school for kindergarten and grade one, mostly for social reasons I suspect, but he did well academically as well. He decided to take his grade 2 year off, and spent the vast majority of that year playing with Lego. The teachers were all surprised when he returned to grade 3 the following year and tested at grade level in all subjects except math…in which he was a full 2 years ahead of his classmates who had dutifully attended class through all of grade 2!

This article explains why that actually makes sense. It also includes many insightful ideas for promoting playful inquiry and inspiring focused learning in almost every other core subject.

Click on the link to view this cool article: 12 Unexpected Ways to Use Lego in the Classroom

 

Lego-House-Creation
Image retrieved fromhttp://www.frugalandfunmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Lego-House-Creation.jpg February 5th 2016