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.”