One of my co-workers at the radio station said something interesting to me this week. He said, “Spell check made me into a good speller.”
At first I thought he was kidding, but no. He told me that he was horrible at spelling when he was younger, but through the years spell check taught him. And it stuck. Today his computer and phone rarely need to correct him.
I walked away and thought about the significance of this observation. At their core people seem to scowl at technology in terms of education and all-around learning.
In fact, almost daily we hear someone lament that “kids ain’t learnin’ nothin’ with them darned screens in their face all day.”
But is that true?
Try doing an online search using these five words: How technology helps students learn.
You’ll discover a vast archive of stories, studies, and stats that show how devices - even the frightening phone or the terrifying tablet - can open up a world of information to students who perhaps never found education . . . well, interesting.
Our non-profit foundation, The Big Brain Club, provides all sorts of services and resources to schools, but we always try to make technological donations an important part of the equation. Why? Because teachers tell us that gadgets often help them to connect with students who otherwise would sit in the back of the room with their arms crossed.
It will be argued, of course, that some kids will try to sneak over to the games instead of the lesson, but that’s not a generational thing; it’s human nature. And it shouldn't detract from the positive effects that lurk at our fingertips.
What, we throw out the entire system because a few people corrupt it?
Voltaire taught us that perfect is the enemy of good. Well, electronic tools can be harnessed for good. Lots of good.
Instead of crusading to get phones and tablets out of the hands of students, let’s search for more ways to make each gadget an accessory to education. If, over time, spell check can help a grown man - who we normally view as stuck in his old habits - to become more proficient with language skills, then imagine what other devices can do if unleashed upon minds that are more naturally open to learning.
I spell that S-u-c-c-e-s-s.
Dom Testa is an author, speaker, morning radio show host, and has kept a ficus tree alive for twenty-four years. He’s also the founder and president of The Big Brain Club, a non-profit student-development foundation. His new book, Smart Is Cool, is now available. More info at www.DomTesta.com.