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Scores of Education Experts Call on Schools to Reject Screen-Saturated Return to Learning

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/08/11/scores-education-experts-call-schools-reject-screen-saturated-return-learning

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Deputize and pay well chosen high school students to tutor, via online, junior high school students to assist the teachers. Do the same for junior high and elementary levels. Work should be done on paper and then held to the screen. The money comes from the savings of not running buses nor HVAC systems at the schools. It is a start and involves people, not corporations. Naturally, there are many other details to be considered and managed.

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Let’s make the well-being of children the central goal of all public policies in the whole world. If children’s well-being were the central goal of all public policy on Earth, the air would clean, water would be pure, forests, rivers, and oceans would be protected, salmon and wildlife would be cherished, health care and education would be public goods instead of private profits. Art and music would be higher priorities than the stock market. Teachers would be honored and bankers would get what they deserve.

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I’ve been digging into poetry and history like a treasure hunter. We have been here before. This is an old playbook. I wanted to find a poet’s expression of facing societal crisis - and came across:

The Present Crisis
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
1819-1891

~https://poets.org/poem/present-crisis

heart wrenching and astringent

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Disaster capitalists sink their teeth even further into education…

Very frightening that the technology itself is not mentioned as dangerous to children. How much more research and sickness is needed before people wake up the dangers of EMFs from all this technology. How many more kids will lose their health from this scourge. It is dangerous enough for adults with increasing rates of brain and other cancers. And lets not forget all the endocrine and reproductive damage that is occurring. Our children need to be protected from this assault for profit.

And what about all the eye damage from so much close up screen work? Kids did not wear glasses when I grew up --and we had our eyes checked annually in school! Today, it seems the majority of kids wear glasses from such young ages and it is all due to all the indoor TV watching and computer play.

The psychological impact of ‘learning’ in isolation is relatively easy to see and critique but we must also be aware of the damage to immune systems that live indoors in isolation as well as EMF’s and visual impairment. Let’s stop having our children destroyed with our permission!

Wise ideas. Having older or faster-learning students help the younger and/or less advanced is a time-tested way for all students to learn more than they would have otherwise. And regardless of what the screen vendors claim, work with paper and pencil has been shown to enhance retention, and the more senses that are involved, the better the retention.

Exactly how work done on paper is sent to a teacher at a remote location and the results returned to the students depends on many variables and many parameters, so is necessarily site specific, and can be a real challenge in underfunded districts.

The “teaching-learning process,” as it is often called today, is inherently an interpersonal relation and undertaking, and the fewer intermediaries–especially non-human ones–the better. I have considerable experience on both ends of “distance learning.” My take on it is that most students who thrive in that situation would do as well on their own, armed with a decent book and other pertinent information, and that weaker students tend to fare even worse in the absence of a live teacher, regardless of the sophistication of the software.

Technology confers many benefits, but basic human nature, including how we learn and master new knowledge and skills, has changed little in the past 2,500 years.

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It’s best to look at independent research to come to an understanding of how educational technology works, doesn’t work, and might work better in the future, rather that just assert axioms.

Good for you, and thanks for posting this poem. I had never seen it before.

I have never been especially drawn to poetry, probably because I was very literal-minded until about age 18, preferring the directness of the “STEM” fields. But I enjoyed the British romantics (also Russians and other Eastern Europeans), and (then) radical ideas of the transcendentalists, and Lowell’s name stuck with me.

Some church hymnals include a 4-stanza hymn titled “Once to Every Man and Nation,” with words by Lowell that were a touchstone for me in those early days. I left the church behind nearly 60 years ago, but that hymn cropped up now and then, and I came to realize that the first line is total baloney! We make those choices every day, moment by moment. But in what is usually the third stanza of the hymn, Lowell directly contradicts himself (possibly unwittingly, judging from the comments of some his critics), saying:

  • "New Occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth;
    They must upward still and onward, Who would keep abreast of truth.

From the title and period of the poem I guessed the topic, but was surprised to find that almost the entire hymn, a small part of the whole, had been lifted almost directly from it. Except for the now archaic style it could have been written yesterday, with its theme of struggle of good against evil (or 43 years ago, with Star Wars). It is tempting to label that struggle as “eternal,” but many writers today date much (though not all) of what we call “evil” as arising from the Agricultural Revolution, some of them also identifying it as the Biblical story of The Fall.