Computers Should Not Be Teachers Essay, Research Paper
Computers Should Not Be Teachers
Imagine being a one-year-old, sitting in front of a computer on your parent’s lap. The computer, in its lovely electronic voice, says “D” is for dog. Flashy screens and unfamiliar voices are not going to register as anything more then entertainment for a young child. Is it really necessary to be on a computer at that young of an age learning the information that parents should be teaching? Try to think ahead a decade latter to a college algebra course. The only resources are a computer and a poorly designed math program on compact disc. Confusion arises, you do not understand how to do functions and the computer’s method is just not working. All that is wanted is a straight answer from a real teacher, and the computer cannot possibly offer that. For both the child and the college student hands on learning taught by a human would be more affective. Parents and teachers need to take full responsibility for teaching in all levels of education. Many teachers and parents in today’s technologically advancing society are changing to a more computerized way of teaching that is less effective and can harm the way students learn.
Parents are being told, through the media, that they have a responsibility to begin preparing their children for a future of computers and technology which will advance them onto top schools and high paying jobs. Parent’s fear that without an early start their children will fall behind and never catch up technologically. Parents are accomplishing this by putting their children as young as eight months in front of a computer. Many companies have designed computer programs for children two and under to learn numbers and letters before they can even speak a sentence. Keyboards have even been designed for small hands and that are drool proof. The concept companies are trying to sell is; if parents buy the programs their children will be smarter. Can a developing child really become smarter just by being exposed to a computer at a very early age?
In the first few years of development children learn many of the skills that will carry them through the rest of their lives. Some of the most important skills are language and socialization. Children learn to problem solve, find solutions and to be creative at an early age. They also develop and improve motor skills, hand eye coordination, and depth perception, which cannot be taught by any computer. The best way possible for any child to learn is to experience life, to experiment, and to observe what elders around them are doing. Children need the bond of caring adults to help them learn, yet technology is inadvertently weakening this bond. Sitting a child in front of a screen can actually slow the development of all these skills, especially creativity. The child learns to rely on the computer for creativity rather than their own mind.
A child looking at a screen with a dancing dog and cat cannot compare to the effect hands on play could have. All a child has to do today is insert in a CD-ROM and a whole world is hers to play with. A young girl can play princess but never actually move from her chair. With a click of the mouse she can change a computerized girl’s costume, hair, and make-up. She never got the excitement of prancing around the house, looking goofy in mom’s make-up, or making the most beautiful dress out of a simple bed sheet. She missed out on the best part of being a child, being able to be mentally and physically creative. The computer did all the work, lessening her imagination skills.
Once children get older more of what they learn is in the teachers’ hands and not so much their parents. Teachers tend to take over in the scholastic part of learning. At the elementary level, children use programs to enhance math and English skills. Games with flashy colors and gimmicks are used to encourage children to get the right answers. Many teaching programs always have their pros and cons. Some programs do a great job at drilling and repetition, which improve memorization skills. Yet, children are held back because they can not explore and understand what is being taught. It does not take much for a child to learn something by rote and memorization, but a full understanding of the material would be best. Other programs have students shooting at flying letters, hardly teaching anything about reading or comprehension at all.
In middle and high school, the fun and games with computers in school are for the most part over. Computers are mainly relied upon for word processing, which is positive and negative. Papers go by much faster than writing and with more ease, but let students slack on spelling and grammar. Word processors can now catch most grammar mistakes as well as spelling. Students seem to rely on the computer to catch their mistakes instead of trying themselves. It becomes easier to let mistakes go by and have the computer catch them, rather than thinking about the grammar themselves.
Today many colleges are offering entire courses on computer. There is the option of sitting in class with a computer acting as teacher or the whole course online, never having to go to the campus. More than academics are part of the college experience; meeting new people, learning to be independent and self efficient is an important part. If that time is spent at home on the computer those experiences are lost. In some ways it does save time, but the lack of teachers’ and peers’ help can be harmful. There are fewer options to ask a teacher for help or to explain a problem; also the absence of a classroom means no classmates to study with for simple help. More and more college classes spend too much time in the computer labs; professors just assign projects on the computer and do not teach. Once in the higher levels of education more explanation is needed; information gets more difficult and complicated. Teachers and professors need to be there to teach, to explain, and to give assistance when needed. No matter how far technology has come, hands on teaching and learning will always express ideas better then any computer program.
Once home from school the adolescence children have computers for more than academics. In many homes today, teenagers use the computer the most in a family, and some are fortunate enough to have them in their own rooms. The problem is it causes isolation. Too much time in front of the screen can cause loneliness and weak social ties. It gives a reason for adolescents not to go out and make real life friends. Some teenagers learn to rely on cyber friends for companionship rather then real friends. Shy teens tend to replace real people with the computer causing poor social skills that can harm chances of getting a job and cause loneliness that can lead to depression. While the computer and Internet can be a blessing for some teens it can also be mentally harmful to others.
Hands on learning will always be best, at no matter what age a person may be. Whether the learning is taking place at eight months old or for a college graduate, traditional teaching will be the key. Years ago when technology was not as powerful as today and not used for as many types of teaching people still learned and were educated. Most of the people who work on computers today did not grow up with them; computers were not around then like they are now. Those same people are not behind on technology and did not have to start on a computer at the age of one. Bill Gates didn’t grow-up in front of a computer, and look what he has done for technology.
Technology is developing at a rapid pace, but that is not an excuse for a teenager to be isolated from the world. Just because it is possible to get a computer program for an infant does not mean it is appropriate in any way. A class may be given on computer, but that does not mean it is effective for learning. When a teenager gets home from school it is acceptable to be on the computer for some entertainment, yet if they become anti-social and isolated it is no longer helpful but harmful. No matter how far technology can take the world, experience will always be best; look how far people have come till now. Talking to real people does not cause isolation and poor social skills, it never has and never will. Children need to be kept interested in real life and not a two-dimensional world.