E-ducation: to what extent?

While the United States is revising primary schools curriculums to make cursive writing optional, researchers question what these changes in education standards could result in. Today schools are getting transformed by technology and the whole way we teach to children is changing. This leads to important questions for the future.

Some schools in Canada have already given up on cursive writing. Many people believe it is not worth teaching anymore, since it would be less useful in our modern times, and consider that more importance should be given to writing on keyboard in class.

Some neuroscientists research what would happen if we later gave up on teaching handwriting. They explain that this could have negative impacts on the way the part of the brain which controls language acquisition develops. To form the letters of the alphabet by hand would help the brain to record the letters and therefore have a major impact our ability to learn how to write and read.

A recent UK survey showed that rising numbers of 13 and 14-years-old mainly read books aimed at primary school pupils. Generally while young people tend to read less books, they spend much more time reading online or on their phone, meaning short and simple sentences, colloquialisms (“gonna”), shortened words (sms language)  and slang…

With writing and reading standard levels declining, it is worth rethinking to what extend we want education to keep becoming more tech-driven. These changes deserve more questioning then evaluating the difference in using educational iPads makes in schools budgets.

Indeed working with computers and tablets in primary schools is an interesting approach to teaching and provides new tools which can reveal convenient for teachers, and much more appealing to pupils. But should schools really follow this tendency and put iPads in the hands of children when you know that on the minute the class ends they will start fixing another screen?

Education has a bigger role to play.

Shouldn’t schools also be a place where children can develop different perspectives on what surrounds them?

Working in creating generations of people with higher skills in technology obviously seems like a good choice for the future in a society from which all sides are shifting to digital. However the roots of society taking their source in humanities shouldn’t be cut.

Hopefully the time when children wouldn’t learn how to write – meaning use handwriting – won’t come too soon. Though it is quite easy to see it getting closer, and following a pragmatic and efficient way of reasoning could conduct to it sooner or later.

We would then become independent from computers – if we are not already – connected to a phone as a prolongation of our body, in the incapacity of practicing one of the fundamentals of our civilisations, writing.

Will we get to a time when citizens won’t know what to do without a keyboard?

Days when humans wouldn’t know how to write? A jump to the past?

It might be better for schools to prepare children to the digital era we live in, while helping them keeping a link to where they come from in the same time. Education has this role to play. And it can help us stay human.

Coralie N’Ch


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