Computers or Enrich Thinking

Chairs facing, I learned.

Chairs facing, I learned.

I was raised ‘pretech’.  Elementary school  in the 1950’s and high school in the 1960’s was low key. As a child at home, my time was occupied with reading, gardening, drawing, photography, and roaming the woods. As a teacher in the 1970’s and ’80’s, I rewarded students for finishing their work early with independent investigations and activities, rather than computer time.

Today, as pictures in the news of students with laptops and articles about learning the basics on a computer abound,  some related research comes to mind. One experiment compared a child’s  brain activity during  TV watching to looking out a window. TV watching had almost a straight line or no brain activity.  Looking out the window had significantly higher brain activity. Also, a student’s study effort  rewarded with TV time significantly decreased information recall. Now the question, can computer time enrich thinking?

As a teacher, without a computer, it was natural to enrich the assignments. Giving a report? The student gave a five question quiz to their classmates,  graded the answers, returned them to the students;  and gave a class summary of the results. There would have been no time to use a computer.

Reading groups focused on biographical books about the same person,  then compared and contrasted similar events.  The favorite was the Great Brain series.  For fun, this same sixth grade reread Dr. Seuss for a week! There were a lot in-depth observations during the class discussion time.

To enrich the writing process, students learned how to critique writing – their own efforts and others.  Again, no time for a computer.

In essence, without a computer, they had the time to participate at higher levels of thinking. One last observation: As a child I needed to learn my multiplication facts. My mother sat me down on a chair facing her with our knees touching.  I learned them, and still remember the love.    LOL

VIGNETTE:  I first recognized the computer impact when my son called from work asking how to make his new ‘slightly smaller’ bed sheets stay in place. As I mentioned the words, ‘hospital corners’, he paused, then said, “Got it, Mom.”  The Google search and computer pictorial had beaten my explanation. “Motherhood is on the way out,” I commented to him. He chuckled and hung up.

NOTE: See  for lessons on the above mentioned ideas.   Search ‘reading’, ‘presentations’ and ‘writing’.