How I Lost 12.5 Pounds & Regained My Soul

Naked, as in truth, and uncensored, I share my daily quest to survive as a woman and artist, while dealing with the complications of a full life, meddling in politics, loving my children to excess, totally permanently married and on a never-ending diet. While my soul is in constant need of repair and redemption, I struggle to do the right thing. In the meantime, let's all double the love. (Love, not sex, you fool). All posts are copyrighted material.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Guess what? Technology alone isn't going to solve our problems, educational or otherwise...

Good morning, my dancing little elves~

Children with a laptop, no matter what age, are very good at entertaining themselves, but are they becoming better educated if they have access to one? Well, school districts across the country are disillusioned with several aspects of their 'free laptop' learning programs.

First of all, kids are naturally careless and laptops are notoriously fragile. Add that problem to the fact that laptops require more maintenance and repair than most school budgets can afford, and their appeal diminishes.

One district in New York was spending $1.5 million a year on laptops and their maintenance issues and decided to call it a day. Who wouldn't? If there had been a corresponding increase in achievement, it would have made sense, but there wasn't. That money could fund thirty new teachers at $50,000 per year, which seems like a better expenditure to me, but I'm prejudiced.

The hope was that the real cost of educating those currently under-performing in the system - or better stated, under-served - could be handled with throwing money and technology at the students. Surprise, surprise. It didn't work.

The human teaching component of learning is as critical as the random discoveries fueled by natural childhood curiosity. What we do improperly in school? We bore our kids to death. Kids love play. We create work. Kids love to learn. We badger them into memorization, ignoring their natural ability to absorb information without grinding themselves down.

We don't allow them enough time for exercise, or if we do? Then the kids don't have enough time to sleep, and we all know that lack of sleep leads to depression in just about everybody.

Without some sort of drug intervention, or sugary food upper, our sleep-deprived bodies are impaired and our brains suffer the greatest damage, as without sleep we are unable to absorb or retain information. No wonder kids are getting depressed, feeling isolated and unloved, and like they don't 'belong'.

How can they be relaxed and their beautiful selves when they are exhausted, held captive en masse when the sun is shining and spring has sprung, complicated by all their hormones racing to match the season? (Known as mating season in farm country.)

Spring fever is something everybody forgets about. Except teenagers. They have it and we torture them by making them go to school and sit through lectures and slide shows that would bore a toad. We forget that they love dances and outings and physical challenges and games.

Okay, so there are some dynamic and devoted teachers who make learning exciting, but they often are drained by living a life of financial deprivation and quit after a few years. Who can live on three thousand a month, pay a mortgage, raise a family and save for college for their own kids?

Actually, the latter is my biggest argument against the high-achievement orientation of many schools. When I was young, teachers would lecture on a subject, and if they were interesting I would be inspired to research things on my own. I had plenty of time to go to the library after school, read encyclopedias, books on muck-racking and whatever. (I finally learned that 'mucking' actually was the act of cleaning up after horses... ahem... in the barn.)

Truthfully, I would have preferred to have my teachers answer all my questions right then and there, but a child learns in school not to express great interest. The curriculum must be followed and too many hands in the air throw off the timing. If a teacher is answering questions, how can they ever get through the material they must teach to the annual 'achievement tests' lauded by idiots like the little bush?

Of course, education is no longer about 'just' learning how to read and write or some basic history, but funneling the masses into some sort of menial, underpaid work. Those 'special' enough to go to college, of course, will compete for the better jobs, and those with advanced degrees will generally be supervising everybody else.

Those not inclined to academics will do the grunt work of society, unless they are fortunate enough to be part of a labor union that hasn't been weakened by the non-union hiring practices of the multi-nationals or industries relying on unskilled, undocumented workers. (We shamelessly exploit immigrants as a national pastime, I'm afraid.)

A child using a computer is often re-inventing the wheel in some way. Yes, there's a lot of information out there, but how do kids know where to access it? The usual areas kids want to go to are the chat rooms, game sites, blogs or in the case of adolescent boys, the porn sites sites. Oh come on. Yes, I find it a little creepy and disgusting, but I'm a woman and old enough to know that no matter what I think? For men and boys it is a lifelong fascination. No judgment here, it just is.

Kids have plenty of play stations and Nintendo games to fiddle with at home or a neighbor's house. So why do they need to be playing games during their prime learning times on laptops? Because the teaching is boring by comparison and like all kids, boredom is something they know how to fix if left alone, but if held captive? They have a hard time not falling asleep, for which they will get in trouble.

The school districts were very disappointed - who hailed the laptop solution as the quick fix they needed to meet no child left behind requirements - that student achievement didn't improve at all. The bottom line?

Not only were the teachers not always able to incorporate the computers into their lessons, but who said thirty-five kids all on-line in study hall was a good thing? The IT guys were going crazy. In one school the entire student body would surf the Internet rather than write papers, memorize vocabulary words, or things the teachers hoped they would accomplish.

The result? They would crash the network and when that happened? They'd collectively start to become anxious and unruly.

We wonder why our kids are getting so heavy and out of shape, but unfortunately, we stick them with a computer, sit them down for hours on end at home and in school. What ever happened to recess and physical education? What ever happened to school as an area where socialization was also part of the curriculum?

Ah well. I am sure somebody will come up with another way to avoid having the right ratio of teachers to kids with some other hopeful solution. Except that kids learn easiest when they are led well or empowered with the tools. Not just the technology.

Sorry I was so all over the place with this post, but I've run out of time to edit.

Clark County Diva



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