Editorial

I’ve listened to a lot of arguments over the past year about the iPads issue in D9 schools.  And let me preface this editorial by saying I am a techie kind of guy, so my original thoughts were that students learning what they will need to know in the future must be a good thing.  But after listening to several parents, and by thinking through the situation, I have changed my mind.

I do agree that learning is the essential element in having schools in the first place.  I also agree that learning on devices that we will be using in the future is essential to being able to use them in the future.  I also agree that there is a “world” of information that is easily accessible at a person’s fingertips on the Internet.

But having given all this consideration, I now believe that what D9 is doing with the iPads is wrong.  It is wrong for the reasons that concerned parents are giving and have given over this time span.  That would be the easy access to pornography, drug use and paraphernalia, unholy sites that promote violence and other forms of crimes against fellow citizens.  All this is accessible to students, and the “filters” that the District is putting into place are an easy fix for students who are, after all, learning the very technology. But I have deeper concerns.

First, the iPads are with students 24-hours per day and the supervision only exists during classroom hours. This reason gives students plenty of time to defeat the “filter” system and also to erase the history that shows where they have been.  Secondly, it appears that the schools are heading to hiring fewer teachers, by having iPads doing the teaching and having teachers only to answer certain questions.  This is one of the more valuable connections that students and young people make during their formative years.  At recent high school reunions, myself and classmates still refer to our general science teacher as “Mr.” That is the ultimate sign of respect even after 50 years.

I have heard reports of students coming to class in the morning looking as if they have been up all night, and the culprit is that they take those devices to bed and play addictive games all night.  That hardly makes for a fertile ground for learning.  Those games are something else, too.  I pulled out an iPad that has been sitting on the shelf for over a year and played a game.  Following the conclusion, on came the commercial.  And guess the star of the commercial?  A young lady killing zombies, no less.  With what appeared to be a .45 caliber pistol. This is hardly the type of content that first and second graders need in their curriculum.

The worst thing I can imagine is what is already happening on the streets of this country right now. The iPad mania is promoting it too.  People are separating themselves from the community and this is the best medicine for creating an isolation that leads to instant war with others.  This is exactly what we should be avoiding and not teaching children to text when they sit across the table from each other.  Communication is key to all peaceful relationships, not imaginary people on an imaginary screen.

Technology must be understood in order for it not to control us.  But we should be teaching the concepts to give us control over it, not having it gain control of us through addictive behavior apps.  I believe there is a place for the technology, but it is not to control our lives.

I would ask the school administration and the school board to do as parents have suggested for some time now which is to back off this position and make the curriculum safe for students.

RM