21st Century Classrooms: Merging the Old with the New

Much has been said and written about the use of new technologies in the classroom.  Global information is readily available today.  Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is free of charge.   Search engines facilitate data access.  A few computer strokes will organize data into graphs and charts.  Graphic illustrations are easier, even for those not artistic.  Power point has revolutionized presentations.

Does this mean that educators must abolish all old practices in favor of the new?  Tacy Stephens, in an ATPE news brief, wrote, “Thinking by Hand.”  She stated that writing by hand helps students to develop fine motor skills, improving the way they understand and compose their thoughts.  “Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neurologists have identified a unique relationship between the hand and the brain.”  The idea is that sequential hand movements activate certain areas of the brain.  Perhaps handwriting, an important facet of note-taking and composing, is needed in the 21st Century classroom.

Are there old educational practices that should be abolished or at least modified?  Alfie Kohn, in The Homework Myth, suggested there is little evidence that homework is academically beneficial, especially when assigned to children in the primary grades.  He stated that excessive amounts of homework become a burden on both children and their parents.  Homework assessments may mean little.  Some students simply copy the homework of their peers, never gaining the practice for which the homework was intended.  Others depend strongly on their parents for homework answers and project assistance.  Perhaps the practice of assigning homework should be modified, if not abolished.

In summary, 21st Century classrooms should be a combination of the best “tried and proven” practices and the new technological advances.   Educators must decide how to “merge the old with the new.”  

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “21st Century Classrooms: Merging the Old with the New

  1. RAJESH KR. SRIVASTAV

    I do agree to the views and strictly follow it, as discussed in the article.

  2. True! Not everything ok’d should be abolished, and not everything new should be adppted.

  3. Thanks for the response. I hope we all manage to transition to the best possible educational practices.

  4. My experience teaching in a 1:1 environment the past two years has taught me this: Technology enhances good instructional practice. Technology exacerbates bad practice.

    Technology adds tools to our proverbial tool chest of instructional options. Classroom management looks a bit different: http://wp.me/p1Dq2f-oE

    • Janet, I will quote you in staff development sessions. I have never heard this idea expressed more clearly and simply: “Technology enhances good instructional practice … exacerbates bad practice.”

  5. Phyllis A. Wilson

    Dr. Hill, you are right on point about the use of technology in the classsroom. However, students need to grasp the basic math and reading concepts at an early age without the use (or limited) use of technology. In my opinion, there are so many learning gaps because the “old fashioned” rote memory skills were never captured at early phases of development. We have allowed 21st century technology to babysit our kids. I saw children who were 9 – 12 months old with IPADS in a church meeting. They were watching cartoons and race car games while their parents were at the meting. Whatever happened to blocks and flash cards or a real book?

    • Phyllis, I appreciate your thoughtful response. As a former English teacher, I would add that students may never fully understand sentence structure without having been taught the essentials of grammar. (Even the use of the sentence diagram may be in order, as long as not overdone.) If technology is used incorrectly, there certainly will be gaps in learning. Also, little ones dependent upon iPads for entertainment may be missing the development of social skills. As true in many areas of life, we need a balance.

  6. Bob Bruesch

    WOW! Janet is right on target! Poor teachers with the most modern techie dooddads are still poor teachers. We should look at technology as we do the pencil and dictionary – they are mainly TOOLS that ASSIST achild’s learning. I, however, disagree with the complete abolition of elementary level homework. Homework at that level should be an exercise in brining the classwork home to the parents and involve them in the child,s learning process. Young children should read TO their parents and parents should ask questions of their children. Web research could take place under the guidance of parents. Exploration of home and yard, of family history and culture, of the local community would be valuable to young students. Homework must be an creative and integral part of a young child’s education. And, let’s not forget the teaching of the ethical use of technology! Children must learn at an early age that there are things that they shouldn’t do on their computers, cell phones, iPads, etc. Shouldn’t the parents be part of this overlooked necessity??

    • Bob, I agree with you about the dynamic role of parents in the education of children. Besides reading to their children, parents can take them on nature trails and visit historical sites with them. And certainly, they must supervise the use of technology.

  7. Laurie

    I believe that parents, grandparents, and extended family members enhance the education of our students. Taking home an occasional assignment can be beneficial and helps the students see the extension of what is being taught in the classroom to the outside world. It allows them to make connections and, hopefully, helps the students better understand and retain what is being presented to them. We are never too old to learn — perhaps the student may bring home something new for the family to learn, as well! It’s a win-win in my book.

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