Last nights ed-tech debate did not disappoint! Both groups did a tremendous job in preparing their arguments and rebuttals. To begin with, I was one of the individuals (17.9%) who agreed that schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily transferable by technology. Does that mean my opinion is correct? Absolutely not, but based on my teaching experiences thus far in my career, and the grade level I am teaching, I feel as though I need to utilize the resources I have in order to get my students prepared for high school. Although I do believe it is important know basic math skills to get by in one’s day to day lives, at what point does a calculator become a necessity? As an eighth-grade teacher, I have students who are not at grade level in Math and do not know basic multiplication or division. This can be traced back to numerous reasons, such as attendance issues, lack of internet access and technology during the pandemic, therefore being unable to “attend” school, and students with exceptionalities, which would make a calculator vital when it comes to Math. As students get to high school, and in higher levels of Mathematics, a calculator is a necessity and a requirement to pass the class. The point I am trying to make, is that if students do not know basic multiplication or division by the early stages of their education, a calculator becomes a useful tool in order for them to learn the outcomes at the grade level they are at.
After discussing this issue with coworkers, and the administrators at the school I teach at, cursive is no longer in the Saskatchewan Curriculum, and it has not been over a decade. Besides writing my signature every now and then, Monday night was the first time I attempted to write in cursive since I was in elementary school. Although I do think it is important to have your own signature, I cannot think of many cases as to when one would need to know or use it when almost everything is electronic. In our breakout room, Nicole made an excellent point that nurses need to know how to read cursive in the nursing profession. That is something I did not know, so in some cases I can understand how it can be useful. My wife and I recently purchased a home, and we figured we would need to go into the lawyer/realtor’s office to sign and initial documentation. All of it was electronic, and our “signature” was our name in cursive font. Although I see the importance, from an onlooker’s perspective it feels like it is becoming a thing of the past. I look at teaching cursive (even though it is supposedly no longer in the curriculum) the same way as teaching Roman numerals. I remember learning this in the third or fourth grade, and maybe this is still in the curriculum (I am unfamiliar with the younger grades curriculum), but I cannot think of a use for knowing that besides the odd clock that has Roman numerals, or trying to figure out what Super Bowl is being played this year.
I am contradicting myself, but everyone needs to know how to write! If we are reliant on technology for everything, there is no chance for success later in life. What is currently happening with Regina Public Schools and lack of internet/technology, students need to know how to put pen to paper. Arkin made a great point in the chat group that technology is great when it works, but what happens when it does not? I will go one step further; if all classes go paperless, and students go from kindergarten to grade 12 using nothing but technology, what happens in university when finals are upcoming, and one needs to write an essay using pen and paper? I have never heard of in person classes using technology for final exams, so how does one pass university if they do not have the basic skill of being able to write pen/pencil to paper?
This is a tricky one, because I understand both sides of the argument. However, I will once again admit that I agreed that schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology. I know 81.9% of you disagree with me, and I completely understand that! However, I am basing this on my own personal experiences as an educator, and everyone of us have different experiences!
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