For nearly 20 years America’s Public Schools have maintained a very narrow focus on student testing outcomes. The goal to increase assessment scores as quickly as possible, has lead to an inundation of technology in the Nation’s classrooms. While many would argue that the pervasive use of technology prepares children for their future, trends in student outcomes, the opinions of workforce development, and concerns expressed by CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies staunchly disagree; at least in part. You see, while technology can engage and entertain students far better than the textbooks, slideshows, and overhead projectors of ‘yesteryear’, they do precious little for actively engaging the minds of students; specifically, creating opportunities for their neurons to synapse! Getting students to go beyond merely watching and listening to problem solving, collaborating, reasoning and decision making, is what our 21st Century Workforce requires. It’s not enough to know the content that flashes across the flat screen TVs, Smart Boards, I-Pads, and Chromebooks. What can our youth do with it? How can they improve upon it or make the next best discovery that solves a world problem?
The irony of it all is that the old fashioned tools of the past, those things that cannot be improved upon, do more to engage and develop our student’s ability to think, perform, solve, and cooperate than modern day technology and it’s cheaper! For pennies a day, parents and teachers can do more to prepare students to excel on assessments and develop those soft skills that will make them invaluable members of the 21st Century Workforce.