August 29, 2012 by benmblackman
When I was in school we couldn’t afford books, these days iPad’s are becoming standard issue apparently.
A colleague told me recently that she had been issued with a letter in the week before the end of term informing her that her son would need an iPad from the start of next. He is 5 years old.
Like me, she is wholly in disagreement on the principle of this thing which makes it even harder to swallow considering the fact that she has to pay for it! Luckily, if like most parents she is unable to afford such a luxury for him, she ‘can pay in (inflated) installments’ for the rest of his school life.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I am an Apple addict, there is not one Apple product I can think of that I would not truly wish to own if only given the means. I own a few and our family has an iPad in its’ armory but there is a time and a place. Most certainly not school though, surely?
I was reliably informed by my colleague that her pride & joys iPad will ‘replace the need for paper and pen.’
‘Please tell me this isn’t true?’ I pleaded.
‘It is,’ she almost sobbed.
We reminisced, we tutted, shook our heads and shouted our protests over each other.
‘What about books though? He’ll still use books won’t he?’ I offered positively.
‘No. Books will not be required,’ (text book or literature). ‘How will I help him with his homework?’ she pondered. ‘I don’t know how to use an iPad.’
I’m sure my heart bled a small amount, you should have seen the sadness in her eyes.
I’ve often wondered what the world my daughter will grow up in will look like (much different to that of my world, I’m sure). Some advances for the better, no doubt, but I worry these days so many more for the worse. I’m 33 years old so I only left school 15 years ago but my, how times have changed.
However, I’m not impressed with this advance in school equipment, rather the contrary. How on earth can you learn to write on an iPad? Yes, I know you can get a stylus, that’s not my point. It’s not real is it? To this day, I still remember the thrill of being issued my first hand writing pen because I had progressed sufficiently with the pencil. The headmistress, no less, was taking our class that day and when she strode to the stationary cupboard and returned handing me the Berol Handwriting Pen I could not have been more thrilled. The feeling of pen on paper can never be replaced by technology and nor should it seek to be.
I love the fact that my daughter can use an iPad (I think). She’s only 3.5 years old but one amazing accomplishment of the iPhone and iPad is the ability for anybody to pick one up and begin to use one. She had mastered many elements of an iPhone aged 2. Staggering. But it must be in moderation, not the norm. Not a mainstay of education, please? I love the potential the iPad and technology gives my daughter to learn, create and relax but usually for her it leads to tradition and classic.
She watches the original Marvel Spiderman animations on Netflix and loves Pigeon Street too. Before we flew on an aeroplane for the first time I was able to teach her about it via YouTube so it was a fabulous experience she looked forward to instead of worrying about. We order books from eBay – she has many of the classic Ladybird series, you know, when stories were really stories. It shows me how sugar coated the world has become when I read these to her. I feel I should shelter her from their abruptness but they did me no harm. The last line of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is nothing about hi ho-ing off to work you know?
*Spoiler Alert* It reads ‘and then she died.’ What do you say to that? Nothing, there’s no need, she’s bigger and cleverer than you think you know? She’s learnt a lot already from books.
I don’t seek to ensure that she is iPad ready when she goes to school in a years time. My hope is that she can perhaps read and write a little. If she can’t, fine, I know I couldn’t but that’s what we’ll aspire to if anything. From a book and on paper I mean.
I want her to do all the things I did growing up: draw; write; paint; sing; run; dance; ride; play; skip; jump; fall; get up again; laugh; cry. Learn.
The thrill of that first handwriting pen and reading new texts (books I mean, not SMS) will never leave me. I can’t believe our education system has decided to begin to turn their backs on these fundamentals.
I hope I’m wrong and my colleague’s school is the exception and not the rule but I fear the exception is gaining momentum.