I wrote a while back about technology in the classroom. This obsession with technology at school is present even in homework, I am finding, and this parent isn’t happy about it.
I remember back in the day – when I was in school – we actually took typing classes. We learned the correct finger positions, and we did typing drills to build our speed and accuracy. That was in high school.
Today, elementary school students are expected to type reports. The problem is, there are no typing classes given in school anymore – not in high school, and certainly not in elementary school. I guess that the powers that be just assume that every kid is a proficient typist because every kid has a computer at home that they’ve been using since they were babies. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some families cannot afford a computer – yes, in this day and age. Some families, like ours, do have a computer, but have not been allowing their children to be on it since babyhood. Also, the fine motor skills required for proficient typing is often absent in young kids, so what you end up seeing a lot of is hunting and pecking. A single paragraph might take an agonizing hour to type for a little kid. Which means, of course, that Mom or Dad often ends up typing Junior’s papers for him. Which is counterproductive on numerous fronts.
My fourth-grade twins were recently given an assignment whereby they each had to research a certain aspect of California missions and type a short paper about their findings – just a paragraph or two. The teacher then wanted their work products emailed to him. We bought a MacBook for the kids this year, specifically for them to use for school work, because frankly, I was getting tired of sharing my laptop with them all the time. (I am very aware of how fortunate we are to be able to own more than one computer, when some families cannot afford any.) In order to save costs, however, we only installed Pages on the kids’ laptop to use for word processing.
So the girls hunted and pecked their way through each of their mission papers. As neither of them have email accounts at nine years old, I attempted to email their papers to their teacher to no avail. I tried multiple times, and the attachments failed every time. I printed the girls’ papers and told them to just turn in the hard copies. they were told by their teacher that he required them to be emailed to him, and that if they were not emailed to him, they would receive zeros on the assignment. I confess this is what my daughters said; did their teacher really say that? I don’t know. If he did, I think that’s pretty appalling. I then put the documents on a thumb drive and attempted to open them in Word from my laptop. No go.
By now I was fuming. Why weren’t the hard copies enough? Why was their assignment creating so much work for me?
In the end, I retyped both papers in Word on my laptop and emailed them to the girls’ teacher. And not with a smile, either.
Kids need to be taught how to type in school, and there needs to be much less of a reliance on and requirement for the use of technology for homework.