Your view: Teaching in the digital age


Teachers throughout Luzerne County are working harder than ever to educate their students. Why? Because many students are not being nurtured by the traditional American values of hard work, self-respect, integrity, manners and individual accountability.

Technology has created a generation of students with the inability to focus and concentrate. Current research is painting a very pessimistic analysis that technology is making students into “tech addicts.”

Popular perceptions of technology are changing for the worse. Risks that people used to think are theoretical are starting to show up in real ways. Paradoxically technology has made teaching students more difficult to educate because it has caused a host of emotional, developmental, psychological and cognitive problems.

Consequently, a wave of smartphone backlash is gaining momentum in schools across America. More than 600 schools across the U.S. are using Yondr cases, neoprene pouches that temporarily lock phones away using a mechanism somewhat like those old shoplifting deterrent tags. Educators, parents, and even former tech executives are using words like invasive, co-dependent, junkies, and addiction serious language meant to suggest student total submission.

Teachers are now dealing with a new breed of students that in many cases are consumed by technology. Rather than liberating and energizing them a kind of passivity has inundated their lifestyle. Technology has created a selfie culture with the quest for instant gratification. Students are being manipulated to relinquish the greatest gift they possess, the only thing that separates them from other species is their ability to think and reason. It takes a lot of energy, commitment, passion and creativity to motivate and teach a generation of students that have been deliberately manipulated by big technology to become “tech addicts”.

All of us are eyewitnesses to the breakdown in morals, value, ethics and lack of respect exhibited in schools and society. Should this generation be blamed for the decadence and decline in America? Of course not, there are too many contemporary variables contributing to this demise. Never the less teachers must deal with this present situation. They are being confronted with a vast array of problems and issues that never existed before the digital age.

Teachers are no longer only educators; they are now taking on multiple roles. For many students, teachers are their last vestiges of hope. The energy, effort and dedication spent in dealing with challenging students demand more work, attention, and innovation by teachers. Helping students to become productive citizens cannot be measured in dollars. The best rewards have intrinsic value but like all other professionals teachers want to receive just compensation for their hard work. Now more than ever teachers deserve a fair salary increase because they are working harder and longer to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.

Technology is not inherently bad; however, it has created a culture of disconnection and addiction. It is an amazing tool if used in the proper way. Empirical evidenced related to brain research is proving that the overuse of technology is having a negative impact on the human brain. The technological revolution of the 21st century has not paid off educationally. It’s time to re-evaluate the role of technology in the learning process. Technology has accelerated the pace of our lives and has made it seem like we were living in service of our devices rather than leveraging tools to make our lives better.

Bill Sarnak