Technology and Critical Thinking: Do they mix?

by Joseph Parker

I love technology.

In fact I enjoy it so much it drives my wife quite crazy at times.

It is so much fun to play and learn and explore things that are innovative and involve taking me places I have never been.

I think that is one of the most alluring things about technology for most people…especially children.

But does it mean we should jump in and use technology as the sole resource for educating our children?

I recently read an article on a new experimental school that does everything using technology for project-based learning, verses the more traditional subject-based; see full article here.

Here is a small excerpt on some of the concerns that I whole-heartedly agree with:

“Some academic experts have said that too much reliance on technology can detract from teaching critical-thinking skills, and that students depend on computers too much, instead of thinking things through and doing the work themselves.

“Students are far too reliant on technology,” says J. Andreas Lippert, associate professor of chemistry at Weber State University. “For example, I’ve noticed that they can’t spell anymore because they always use the spell checker, which often results in incorrect word usage such as the difference between pulsar and pulser.”

Lippert adds that students’ reading capacity is also diminished because they scan everything so quickly; they don’t retain anything they read. And worse, plagiarism is running rampant, because they copy and paste information directly off the Internet onto their papers, assuming that if it’s on the Internet, it’s free to use (as in public domain).”

In our new white paper, Competition: A Tool for Emotional Development (click here to read), Wanda discusses the need for teaching children important life skills through the use of competition.

In a quote from the paper Wanda says,

“A child can learn how to use a computer at a fairly young age, but the judgment needed to discern the best use of the computer takes time. This judgment requires adults who are productive, empathetic and wise to guide the child through real life experiences.”

I love technology, but to use it as the sole medium of teaching our children concerns me.

Kids will not really learn anything except that they have a “crutch” they can always turn to for answers. There will be no real skills gained, but how to push a few keypad buttons that will always give them the answers.

If we go down this road I fear we will actually do more harm to our children than good.

Again, I am not saying technology in and of itself is bad…but we must be wise in how we use it; especially in the education and upbringing of our children!

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