Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One Voice or Many? A student’s perspective

The following article was submitted by a Gr. 11 student at my school.  In it, he makes the compelling argument for schools and teachers to embrace the internet as a learning tool.  I thought I’d share it.  Thanks, Tommy, for agreeing to have your writing posted on my blog!!

            Within the last 15 years the internet has made its way into every bedroom, kitchen, classroom, car, office, office, meeting and pocket. Needless to say the internet is here to stay. Now the question being asked by anyone who is looking into the future of our youth is this: Should students be turned on to internet in the classroom rather that of the single limited voice of a teacher?

            There are two very opposite sides of this ugly headed beast. Old fashioned people (most likely older teachers) will preach to you the benefits of the classroom environment, and learning at a designated pace. They will try to convince you that ancient methods of pencil and paper are the only way to educate unruly teenagers and to control their hormonal angst. But these people are fools.

            I have been educated by the pencil and paper way since kindergarten. I have always been the kid in the middle of the class answering questions, acing tests and intimidating classmates.  Not to be pretentious, but as one of the students receiving the greatest reward from this method, even I have to say when compared to the things you can learn on the internet:  it sucks.

            In ancient times the way kids learned was through following their father or mother around every day and learning through what they saw. But this method was later cast out in favour of schools. At the time it was a great idea. People adapted to circumstances and created schools for children to learn. But why are we so afraid to adapt now?
            The internet is more than just an alternative, it represents change, and it represents the future. Our modern adaptation to our modern circumstance is to embrace the internet in education.

            The internet is a resource for learning that I have used for as long as I can remember.  When I have French homework I don’t understand, I use an online translator.  I have used the internet to find info on biology, chemistry, and physics that were explained to an extent that not even the greatest science teacher could imitate. I found online quizzes to test my knowledge, crosswords to check my vocab, and on top of that I studied with other students through Skype!

When I have a funeral to go to and I forget how to tie a tie, I learn on YouTube. When my family plans a trip we book it online. I have an aunt and uncle who immigrated to Canada about 35 years ago. They still can’t speak fluent English, their accent is terrible, and they refuse to adhere to Canadian style living. My aunt and uncle also own an laptop with windows 7 because even they realize that they’ll be left behind without it.

            If the internet was in the classroom it would be beneficial to everyone. Good teachers would emphasize what students learn online. Bad teachers could be picked out because students would have more than one voice in their ear telling them what is true about Science or Socials, Math, or English!

            Although there are also many negative things that the internet brings to the table that the pencil and paper method does not, it should not take away from the internet as a whole. I personally believe that there is still merit in classrooms, but just not enough to convince me that it’s the best way to learn right now in our present day and age.

            If I asked you right now to go and define: PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS would you look it up in a medical dictionary? Or would you Google it? Unless you have a medical dictionary right there next to you opened on the right page, 99% of people reading this would look it up online. Please don’t have the audacity to say that the dictionary is more accurate or reliable, because if they had just discovered a new side effect to PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS (a lung disease) the first place to have it would be the internet. In fact it’s also ironic that when I use Google as a verb, there’s no squiggly line underneath to designate an error. (Word servers are updated online.)

             The internet is so much a part of our daily lives that we don’t even notice it anymore. The GPS in our car, the apps on our phone, even the contacts I’m wearing that I ordered online. The internet is part of us, and it should be part of our education.
             The main reason though that I believe that students should be turned on to web browsing is that the internet is the voice and tool of everyone who uses it. The deal breaker for me is that it all comes down to:  

            If you’re thinking that peoples voice don’t matter? Really? In Egypt the people voice broke down the government, in Libya the peoples voice is breaking down the government. In America the people voted for an African American President. The peoples voice matters, and the internet is the people’s voice.

            The internet is our best, modern, and acceptable form of education for today’s youth. The internet is opening doors every day for people who didn’t know that these doors existed. The internet, like us is constantly changing, evolving and adapting and this why we need it in our lives. We need to adapt, we need to change we need to evolve, and the internet is the way to do it.     


  1. Indeed, Tommy, it is about voices. Thanks for this passionate plea for opening the doors and embracing what exists all around us.

  2. Great post, again! I was mesmerized how the power of twitter, the internet, and social media was used at the PLC conference this past week. AMAZING stuff! :)

  3. Great post! I think online learning is great, so long as students are also equipped with the right tools to critically analyze what they view on the web-- just as we would encourage when they view other media. The internet can be a dangerous source of misinformation that can be spread much more rapidly and dangerously than other media-- and kids need to keep that in mind.