As technology becomes a more common feature of classrooms and computer-based testing becomes the norm, even the youngest learners are being pushed to master keyboarding and computing skills. But what does it feel like for a kindergartener, whose family has faithfully followed the American Academy of Pediatric’s suggestions to limit screen time, to arrive at school and immediately be assessed on a computer?
In her PBS MediaShift essay, Jenny Shank describes the tensions emerging between parents with low-tech child rearing styles, teachers frantically trying to prepare students for computer-based tests that could determine the future of their careers, and districts following the latest trends. Shank’s essay gives voice to that “stuck in the middle” feeling when a parent supports the idea of technology integration in school generally, but isn’t sure she thinks it’s being done well. Shank writes:
“I’m all for teaching kids about technology, which will be a part of their personal and work lives forever. But shouldn’t they learn how to write software programs rather than how to scan a text and answer multiple-choice questions on a screen? Shouldn’t they learn about how to assemble computer hardware, build an object with a 3-D printer, or shoot and edit digital video footage rather than passively watch as a computer reads them a book? Many studies suggest that when people read on a screen rather than paper, they read less attentively and retain less. So why aren’t schools using computers for what these machines are actually good at instead?”
Before my son started kindergarten in a public school in Boulder, Colo., in August, his teacher asked me to bring him in for an assessment. I expected this to be similar to what my daughter experienced when she started kindergarten three years ago — he’d meet his teacher, see his classroom, and…