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The Kids Aren’t Alright

Courtesy of MCT Campus

I was sitting on my living room couch with my bulky English textbook in my lap while I flipped through the mess of papers in my folders.

I could hear footsteps behind me and I had let out a sigh of relief. My brothers were home, which meant I was able to take a small break from tedious studying to ask them about their day.

Nothing brought me more entertainment than hearing about my brothers’ elementary school drama, but instead of the usual cheery “hello,” I received a nice, cold serving of silence.

My brother, Ben, a third-grader at Leggee Elementary, casually walked passed me, took out his newly acquired tablet, sat in the corner of the living room, and prepared to tune out the world around him.  I stared at him in awe, wondering why a tablet was more important than me.

I brushed it off the first day, but it seemed to get increasingly worse. I’d find my brother tinkering with his tablet in the corner of the room, but rarely would he be on there for educational purposes.

My brother hardly has homework as it is, and here I am lugging three densely packed textbooks around. His tablets have all but one textbook installed on it, and most of his class assignments and tests are taken on it, as well.

Tablets have been set up and given to students in District 158 elementary schools for a few years now, and slowly, the entire curriculum is changing to revolve around the tablets.

It is true, my brother has become accustom to using his tablet on a daily basis, but what I am more worried about is my brother’s lack of awareness of what is going on around him because he is so fixated on his tablet. He is quite tech-savvy. Thankfully, my parents have been able to stop him from being completely obsessed with it.

Despite my brother’s fondness of his tablet, he constantly tells me how the tablets were not working and he was not able to finish many of his lessons at school. As much as the tablets seem like the logical thing to use, I don’t see a lot of learning coming from them based on my brother’s complaints.

I asked Leggee Elementary’s principal, Scott Iddings, to shed some light on the subject.

“There have been connectivity issues.  A lot of them were a result of our Internet service provider, which has been resolved.  Within classrooms, there have been times when students aren’t able to access the Internet. However, our new literacy series, ‘Reading Street,’ is almost entirely on the tablet itself, so we don’t need the Internet to access it. Because of that, a lot of the learning process has remained intact,” said Iddings. “As the students become more comfortable using the ‘Kuno’ tablets, they will be better problem solvers when connectivity issues pop up.”

Sure, getting the younger generations more comfortable with new technology will prepare them for the future, but I’m not sure that the elementary kids are the ones that can actually put them to good use.

From what I understand, the tablets are just the beginning of the technological advancements being made in District 158. The graduating class of 2020 is the first class to have tablets with them for middle school, but that doesn’t mean that tablets are the sole future of District 158 students.

“We are just scraping the tip of the iceberg with technology and tablets; they won’t replace paper and pencil or traditional books.  There will always be a need and a desire to use these tools,” said Iddings. “Learning is more about content and instruction than anything else.”

Blended Learning Department chair, Anne Pasco, believes that the educational advancements aren’t going to stop with the use of tablets in the classroom.

“Learning is a lot different than it was 30 years ago,” said Pasco. “Kids have so many distractions in their faces. When I was that age, I didn’t have all that.”

Courtesy of MCT Campus
Courtesy of MCT Campus

I have to say; education has come a long way in regards to the resources available to students. With just one click of a button, students can get immediate feedback on their work, and also communicate with peers.

“With all the resources like Google and YouTube, students can self-advocate for themselves, and they have all the tools,” said Pasco. “They don’t have to wait on me.”

High school students who truly need the resources to communicate with one another, as well as simplify their workload, would be able to benefit from the use of their own, school-issued tablets.

With the increasing number of blended classes and AP courses, high school students have more use for tablets, than an elementary student.

Elementary students will not be to fully benefit from their tablets they way high school students can.

I am not saying that the advancements made in the last few years, are terrible.  I do think that we are not using these advancements to their full advantage by supplying them to elementary students.

What I fail to understand is the fact that all this technology is being used on such young minds. My brothers are still learning how to use our house phone, let alone their very own tablet. They don’t fully grasp the concept of communicating and simplifying their work with the use of their tablets.

Elementary school is a place for kids to build a base for learning and to enjoy the perks of being a child.  By giving them tablets, we are giving them the distraction that society thinks hinders their focus in school, and also taking away their chance to learn without all the distractions.

If tablets are what are being given to the younger students, I can only imagine what future high school students will be getting.

“It’s very possible that when these current fifth graders reach high school, there may be a whole new form of technology available to us,” said Iddings, who is embracing the new wave of technological advancements.

The truth is no one knows what is in store for Huntley High School when it comes to technology, and there is no telling if it will be good or bad. I know my brothers will have a bright future, and I just hope that all the advancements and changes in education will benefit them as much as the district predicts it will.


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