Rapid Evolutionary Changes?

This week we were assigned the task of exploring the Common Sense Media website, reading chapter one of Shalom Fisch’s book, and reading Audrey Watter’s post. We were also asked to unpack a very loaded Postman statement.

I must start by saying that I enjoyed all the readings, particularly the opportunity to explore Common Sense Media’s website. I researched my 2 1/2 year old daughter’s favourite shows with family and friends. While exploring the website, we had great discussions about how the role of parent-child co-viewing has evolved and how society’s expectation for ‘ quality educational’ programming has increase since my childhood.

6337323654_1b4ec2f5e8Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

When Postman states that Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents, I believe he is referring to technology as being a trade-off. Postman states that with “every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.” On one hand, I agree.  Postman explains that “ (s)ome critics have argued that exposure to television-even educational television-can lead to outcomes such as reduced attention spans, lack of interest in school (because teachers do not sing and dance like characters on television), or children becoming passive “zombie viewers”.” As a French immersion kindergarten teacher, I have often felt like I am a character in a Disney movie for most of my day. Almost everything I do has a song and actions associated with it. For example, I have a line up song, a wash your hands song, a clean up song, a snack time song, a come to the carpet song, etc. Is my day-to-day reality perhaps the trade-off that Postman alludes to? In order to hold student’s attention in class, must I sing and dance and entertain them? I would argue that if this is how children learn best, through song, dance and the teacher being an entertainer, then this is how teachers should be teaching. So this answers his question “what will technology do”. The next question “ what will technology undo” deserves to be examined.

I will start with the social implications on our culture. Sesame Street allows children to watch a conflict unfold and shows how it can be fixed.

What Sesame Street does not show is the depth of hurt that can be caused by someone’s actions and how it can not instantaneously be fixed. I have to remind my kindergarten’s often that after a conflict, another child has the right to be mad and is allowed the time to process what has been done. I explain daily that saying your sorry doesn’t INSTANTLY fix the problem. It takes time to repair a relationship. I believe technology has ‘undone’ the understanding of ‘real time’ and the intricacy of friendships and peoples feelings. Not every personality type is able to forgive and move on. Sometimes things can’t be fixed.

Extending the idea of ‘what will technology undo’ on the current culture of smartphones and BYOD, I would agree with Haley Amanda Toadvine that “social skills and face to face interactions are damaged through impersonal communication because the individual is unable to express body language, tone, voice, touch and facial expressions(…).” At this point in human evolution, we have not evolved enough that our species can function without body language and facial expressions. Perhaps one day we will not need face-to-face interactions, but until then, I believe we need to balance emerging technologies and practices such as BYOD with the importance of face-to-face conversations.28384316975_130f8f68a0

                                             khalid Albaih Flickr via Compfight cc

Take a look at this TED Talk on Human Evolution and read this Washington Post article and let me know your thoughts. 

Do you believe in the possible link between evolution and Autism? If you do, are humans truly ‘undoing’ anything in terms of the big picture of evolution?

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3 thoughts on “Rapid Evolutionary Changes?

  1. Dr. Alec Couros (@courosa) says:

    Great clip to critique re: conflict. I agree with your analysis – in fact, the clip makes conflict seem fun. The deep pieces around conflict that are certainly accessible and meaningful at the targeted age range are entirely missed by the clip. Again, great example – you showed me something that I may not have seen as a primarily adult educator.

    Will check out the TED Talk as well. Thanks!

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  2. Kirsten Hansen says:

    I feel like, for the most part, people are okay with kindergarten being fun. The assumption that kids that age need all that stimulation seems accepted. I remember singing and dancing and snacks and naps and crayons and glue in kindergarten too. But it feels like the older students get, the more we think they have to be serious and nose-to-the-grindstone, and no more entertainment. As they get older, I feel like we expect them to have decided they love learning and so learn regardless of how unpleasant some teachers make it (not all, I know some are awesome). And it can be even worse in university. I have definitely seen blog posts of instructors complaining that they shouldn’t have to entertain or compete with devices to have student attention. Students should just give them attention by default. Do you think that the age at which students are allowed to want to have fun is changing? Am I right that it’s more acceptable with kindergarten than it might be with older students? I remember way more songs from French classes than songs from English ones, perhaps because one of my French teachers loved to sing, but that was still around maybe grade 5. Although the pamplemousse song from the game is still stuck in my head!

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    • launelheinen says:

      Yes I do think we are sometimes expecting kids to grow up too fast, especially when referring to learning/teaching styles. Kindergarten and grade one look very different from each other. And interesting that you brought up the difference between English and French. I have noticed that kids of all ages learn better through songs, especially when learning a second language.

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