One thing I have always worried about with using technology in the classroom is how it will affect my students personal skills. How it will affect their day to day language acquisition (which is a big problem when teaching second language learners). A quote from a 16 year-old boy in this article illustrates this fear: A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.” With less conversation going on outside of school, is it important students learn to have a conversation in school, or is the art of conversation on the way out? Will students need this skill in the future when acquiring a job or is it becoming obsolete?
Some of my favorite parts of this article:
1)My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done. –talk about multi-tasking! Are you really involved in either conversation if you are trying to juggle both?
2) We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.”
3) Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right. —This goes back to the article I read about “Facebook depression”. No one is perfect, but you can make it seem that way in your digital life.
4) FACE-TO-FACE conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters. –Lord knows by students need more help in learning patience.
5) If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.
6) I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.” We can demonstrate the value of conversation to our children. And we can do the same thing at work. There we are so busy communicating that we often don’t have time to talk to one another about what really matters. Employees asked for casual Fridays; perhaps managers should introduce conversational Thursdays.
Monday night food for thought..and maybe a conversation.