Before kids had laptops or netbooks in the classroom, quiet was a state seldom achieved. Reading or writing were often done silently, as was arithmetic, unless you had to use your fingers to count out loud.
Because I consider myself a traditional educator, I find that I am ambivalent about computers in classrooms. With few exceptions, online activities are individualized. Some make it possible to compete for levels of achievement, but students frequently employ headphones, reducing noise and minimizing social interaction.
My author self whispers that they would benefit more from reading books than screens. My schoolmarm self mumbles paper, pencils, crayons and construction paper. And the progressive, liberated educator yells, “Don’t fight it! Computers will become more and more critical to comprehensive education.”
For as long as kids run up and hug me in the hallway, I will continue to believe that I can’t be replaced by a hard drive. As long as I continue to spell words such as, “wisdom,” “Thanksgiving” and “dirt,” I will confirm my space in education.
Will we have technology to apply Minion band-aids to nearly invisible wounds? Will netbooks bring cookies to celebrate birthdays, holidays or perfect attendance? And will a tablet ever receive a hand-drawn, “I love you” picture from a second grader?
Please let me know if any of that is possible. Until then, I’ll tolerate the sounds of student interaction, giggles and joy. Shalom.