Because technology of various flavors is such a crucial component of today’s education, I find myself trying to imagine many things. All of these imaginings relate to having had this technology available as I was completing my own education.
Kindergarten through eighth grades would have been essentially the same as they were. If laptops or PCs had been available, I sincerely doubt that we would have had them in our home. Our family finances were limited, with one working parent and substantial medical bills.
In those grades, essays or papers could be handwritten, in your very best handwriting. The word “cursive” was unknown to us. When we arrived in high school, things changed.
Now we had to do research. Some info was available in our school library. Had we had current technology, we could have done that online. Consequently, it was the mile or so each way to the branch public library. In extreme cases, we took the number 5 bus to the El, then to the Chicago Public Library on Randolph Street.
Then it was writing the paper by hand, then rolling out the Smith-Corona portable to create a finished product. You had to hope you made no mistakes – we had no correction tools whatsoever, other than the generally ineffective erasers on our pencils.
The net gain was developing a vast appreciation for libraries and research materials. My college days reinforced that love – we still didn’t have computers then.
Is my education more substantial or more comprehensive because of all the labor it entailed? Somehow, I don’t think that we can reach any reasonable conclusions or methods by which we can compare pre-technology to present day education. Students today have access to massive amounts of information that I didn’t have available.
For certain, I never had to create, maintain and memorize passwords. My work was manifestly original because we had no ghost writers for hire or sites available for plagiarism. Whatever data I wanted had to be collected during library hours. After that, it was my #2 pencil and Smith-Corona, generally before bedtime.
Putting in all that work absolutely validated the significance of my education. Most likely, I would attach the same value now if I deleted the typewriter and library trips. But I don’t think I will ever duplicate the intoxicating smells and feels of an enormous reference library and I really don’t want to do so. Shalom.