By Sarah Danik
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX CAROLINA) Some schools are going “old school”, bringing back more hands-on activities, note taking with pens and pencils and less focus on computers and screen time.
That comes as the New York Times asks the question, is technology creating a “digital divide” in a way you wouldn’t expect, as they say some private schools are getting back to the basics, possibly giving kids an advantage.
The article asks the question, if kids going back to the basics will do better in school and real life. Upstate educators we spoke with can’t answer that, but say they always try to create a balance in the classroom.
We stopped by the “New Tech” program at JL Mann High School in Greenville County.
It’s a project based learning “school within a school.” Students get instruction in core content areas like English and Math. They just execute things a little differently.
Kelly Fischer is a Geometry and Engineering Teacher in the program. “It’s not just technology here, we do a lot of hands on work, activities. We have something called courtesy mode where students put away their laptops and work.”
Fisher’s class is 3D modeling their projects they created through a computer program, but you won’t see their heads buried in screens all day.
“I believe there is balance, there are times they do math and have to write proofs with pencil and paper,” said Fisher.
Olivia Johnson is a student in that class. She sees the need for balance in her own education, after all, kids her age have always had technology at their fingertips.
But they don’t replace human interaction.
“I think we have more face to face work than technology and I think that’s very helpful and it’s a lot better than just being on our computers,” said Johnson.
Nicholas Ralston is also a student here, and while he says he likes and uses computers, he also likes going old school.
“I’ve always been a person who likes to handwrite notes, I think there is research to prove it, that writing stuff down is better and helps you maintain information better than typing,” said Ralston.
Local psychologists say they are seeing some of the negative impacts of too much screen time for kids.
Caitlin McLear is a Psychologist at Synergy Psych in Greenville.
“I have kids now who will say if I have too much phone time I’m cranky or I don’t want to do anything,” said McLear.
Dr. McLear also says recent research is showing that no screen time is bad, but so is too much. That’s why boundaries for your children are so important.
“Technology is not going away, we’re going to be using it forever and ever, so we’ve got to teach kids on how to use is responsibly, that’s the model we take, not saying no screens, because that’s not possible. Somewhere in the middle,” McLear said.
We also spoke with a few private schools in the area, including Shannon Forest Christian School and Christ Church Episcopal.
Both told us while they are not anti-technology, but there is a renewed focus to making sure students get plenty of non-screen time.
Shannon Forest told us that they rewrote their device policy in the last few years to make it more strict, and brought back more textbooks and hard copies of materials.
We also got this statement on the topic from Christ Church Episcopal School.
“At Christ Church Episcopal School technology training, online safety, and ethical use of digital media are integrated into each division’s curriculum. However, screen time is balanced with green time in our outdoor classrooms and labs, unstructured recess time, physical education, and hands-on and experiential learning. Unlike conventional curricula CCES also instills character traits such as growth mindset, moral reasoning, rational decision making, and resilience. Overall, we strive for balance in an increasingly digital world.”
Melissa Hughes, Director of Instructional Technology, Christ Church Episcopal School