Smart classes may hinder the ability of a teacher to think, apply their intellect while interacting with students, shares a school principal of a 25 year old school. What do schools think about technology?

Gone are the days when children used to play outside their homes, on the street, in the mud, riding bicycles, playing outdoor games like kabbadi, kho-kho etc. These games involved physical activity, connecting with our neighbors and making new friends and these didn’t require expensive equipment or smart phones or x-box.

Back then, our mind could perceive and appreciate simple pleasures, naturally bonding with people around. Families at-least had 1 meal a day together, the dining table used to be a central place where families came together to eat and talk about their daily routine. But, down the line, things changed with the penetration of gadgets, smartphones and high speed internet. Today’s children are more happy playing games downloaded from the Google play store. Opportunities for physical, face to face interactions among children are no longer tapped for holistic growth.

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We think, high speed internet, social gaming and smart classes & gadgets have impacted the way children today experience life, sometimes encouraging living in a virtual, less real world. Is technology killing the bondage between parents and children at home?

We wanted to learn how children, teachers and schools look at this challenge and visited K.R.L.S. Patel Rama Reddy Education Trust. This school is a 26 year old school, in Domlur, Bangalore run by 5 brothers.

As soon as we entered the school we met Mr. Damodar Reddy who is currently the vice president of the school. We asked him about the vision of the school and what audience are they catering to. He shared that the school’s vision is to provide education with values, they’re primarily catering to students from rural backgrounds and for the middle class.

We then met, Mr. S.S Sreenathan the principal of that school, who has over 50 years of experience as a mathematician and a teacher. We asked him few questions, below is the excerpt from the interview.

Humans of the Digital Age: What is the impact of technology on education, children of this generation and teachers?”

School Principal: “It’s very hard to live without technology today. Technology does provide many positive benefits for learning, it also can have several negative effects on a child’s overall development and quality of life. We do not allow mobile phones and electronic gadgets once inside the school, not even for teachers. We believe addiction to gadgets can reduce the child’s thinking power and actively paying attention to the moment. We suggest parents to encourage children to think loud, be creative, be expressive and not encourage overuse of technology.”

Humans of the Digital Age: What technologies do you use in your school?

School Principal: “In our school we currently use smart classes in which we are using CD, audio / video / visual equipments to educate our children on math, music, art and crafts. We insist our children to take a more practical approach than theoretical approach. We encourage more physical activity and creative problem solving. Healthy mind resides in a healthy body.”

Humans of the Digital Age: What is your view on smart classes?

School Principal: “I am against the concept of smart classes. I am against the
approach of projecting theory on the screen or on a device and dictating information and advice to Children. Children start thinking when subjects are taught practically, and hence learn better. I believe smart classes sometimes even hinder the ability of teachers to think and apply their spontaneity and intelligence while interacting with students”.

Humans of the Digital Age: What are the pros and cons do you see in using technology?

School Principal: “Technology has brought in a huge difference in sectors like bank where we can save manpower as well as time. But smartphones have reached the heights where even for religious activities like Pooja we use mobile phones. Pooja is a form of meditation, but
we are driven away from our sole purpose. Technology should be used to make life easy while protecting human values”.

Humans of the Digital Age: Sir you spoke about adopting a practical approach in education. Can you give an example?

School Principal: “In our labs we make students understand the phenomenon, process and gather reactions. For example: One does not get to see in realtime, how copper is extracted. To show the extraction of copper or to explain the process of a blast furnace working, we play a CD to show children the real process, so they can better visualize, imagine and then ask questions.”

Humans of the Digital Age: What is the difference in education in Urban schools and Rural schools? Do you think rural schools get assistance with all infrastructure and technologies used in Urban schools?

School Principal: “Most schools in villages teach in rural languages and hardly use any technology. Students in rural areas do not get exposed to different languages, people from different cultures / backgrounds and lack access to current trending technologies. Often girl children are not given education in rural areas. Funding is a problem as well.”

We met students of 9th grade, interacted with them and asked few questions:

Humans of the Digital Age: What games do you play? Do you play video games?

9th Grade Students: “Yes, we play many games on the phone like Survey Surfer, Horse Debate, Temple Run, Clash of Clans, Zombies etc.”

Humans of the Digital Age: How interesting it is to play more video games than physical games?
There were mixed reactions to this question. Some of the students felt videogames are better because they set targets and achieve them, but miss connecting with friends. Some them felt outdoor games are better because they get to meet their friends and feel fit playing physical games. We think parents should encourage children to play healthy video games as well as physical games.

Humans of the Digital Age: How much time do you get to play in a day?

9th Grade Students: “We get around 2 hours every day to play.”

Humans of the Digital Age: How are exams conducted nowadays? Do you use online examination system?

9th Grade Students: “We give written test on paper.”

We think schools can adopt online examinations on a need basis.

Impact of technology on holistic development of a child

Technology is playing a vital role in the overall development of children and their experience of life; positive or negative is the question on the minds of parents. Today’s games are different; today’s families are different. There is lesser space for creativity and imagination in today’s children, who are totally dependent on technology for play, making them sedentary, armchair adventurers. This also affects overall fitness as they don’t get much of physical exercise and limits opportunities for the child’s social emotional learning. Parents rely on fast communication and transportation technology to
make their lives easier and faster. Fast moving technology – first world has left parents becoming indifferent towards the significant impact and changes happening to their family structure and lifestyles. As per doctors and psychologists there are four critical factors necessary to achieve a healthy, holistic development of a child –
Movement, Touch, Human connection and Exposure to nature. Children need 2-3 hours per day of active involvement with nature and the community around them.

What do you think about the impact of technology on children?

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