Raise your hand if you think Mathematics are important. There has been a lot of talk this school year about the Common Core State Standards. What are they? How are they different from what our students have been learning all these years? Click here to see how the math standards have changed. It sounds like we are going in the right direction. Having a big picture way of thinking is crucial to understanding new concepts as they arise. Equally crucial is the ability to apply these concepts. So far over 75% of the states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the DoDEA have aligned their school standards with the Common Core. Let's hope that this shift brings about a major change and helps create more math minded students, so we can rise again amongst the ranks of the world's best math students.
The dilemma is real. I'm sure my wife and I are not the only ones with it. As a society, we are moving at lightning speed towards the ultimate outcome of technology fully taking over in our children's education. It may come with a price however. There are plenty of traditional educational philosophers still out there who believe that textbooks, taking notes in notebooks, and having one on one, face to face interaction between students and teachers are still the most rewarding and beneficial ways for reaching students and helping them succeed. That mode of thought is quickly becoming outdated however. I am at the crossroads with my own children, as well as my clients' students. Eventually the thin virtual line between the traditional paper-pencil approach and the screen-stylus must be crossed, then embraced with a commitment and sincere enthusiasm by all of us. I don't think we will have a choice in the matter. In this age of information everyone knows everything, or so it seems that way. Everyone knows that to make pencils, paper, and books we need to harvest trees. Even with recycling, plenty of trees are still felled. People may argue that this is a reason to make the switch over from tangible to virtual much sooner. Save the forests. Then others will say that too much screen time in and out of school could drastically and negatively affect the children of our society today and into the future. Save the children. Can we have it both ways?
The rest of the developed world is willfully trying to meet America's level of acquiescence in terms of its commitment to technology in almost every facet of its citizens' lives. Of course there are plenty of societies that have blown by us, especially in the Asian nations, particularly Japan. However, they have held on to plenty of tradition throughout their society and have a better grasp on who they are as a culture, while we are still trying to figure out where our society is heading. I question whether we will be able to responsibly handle the major shift to an everyday approach of managing our lives on screens. The jury is still out, but some early evidence suggests that it is all so new and novel, and coming at us so fast, that many people, young and old, are making bad choices with the power they have in their palms. We know of stories of students bullying other children through text messaging, emailing, and Facebook. For the people receiving the maltreatment, there is no way of shielding themselves from the potential barrage of virtual abuse and libel. As parents it is our job to lay the boundaries and the foundation of how to treat people correctly early on in our children's lives; keeping them engaged in technology at a healthy level by embracing it responsibly.