Horseback riding through the soggy coastal trails in Dominican Republic, I passed piles of garbage, piles that had no where to go, humps of trash that would never be removed or placed in a dumpster for pickup. The garbage trucks don’t come out to this area, where aqua colored shacks and cabins cluster like the skinny chickens clucking. Everyone’s laundry has no choice but to try and dry in this humid air.
When the little ones ran over, they surrounded my horse like a school of hungry fish. They brought me wrinkled flower petals and unrecognizable produce. Each begged for a dollar, I gave them all my ones. They tried to appear thankful, but a deep and hollow starvation consumed their little faces.
It was only after my wallet was emptied when I saw him in the corner of my eye, a man observing the dance, peering through the palms. He was the choreographer, and I wondered how many cents he would let the kids keep.
I hope that my few depictions illustrate the level of poverty plaguing these rural villages so you can properly imagine how surprised I was to see a young man playing with a smart phone. Throughout all these famished faces and bundles of debris resides a multitude of cell phones. It would appear that the phones are more important than food or sanitation.
And they are. Having access to a smart phone daily is vital. The phone provides access to the news, the bus schedules, entertainment, contact with family and work opportunities. Even the most impoverished are completely leashed to technology. In order to keep up, connection to the world wide web strangely but truly becomes more essential than a meal.
Our reliance on technology compares to our need for water. Its profound meddling with our species won’t stop anytime soon. It has extended its reach all the way into Dominican valleys. Into outer space, into jungles and war zones. It’s in every student’s hands.
To teach with only a book is not enough. In order to make contact with pupils, educators must recognize that technology is no longer a supplement, but a main ingredient, a vital organ.
It’s not that students don’t want to learn the material presented in a book or throughout a lecture; it’s essentially that they can’t. Literally, since birth their information absorbing processes are digital, dynamic, quick.
They grew up on this stuff!
A contemporary higher education student does not struggle with multiple screens, he or she sees them all, processing all of the imagery together. For example, reading a text on a phone while watching TV and flipping through a magazine are routinely performed at once with ease. It’s not juggling; it’s simultaneous entry.
Though generational gaps between students and educators have grown into chasms, with the rampant social implementation of smart devices, it is the professor’s responsibility to recognize and assimilate to the mass influence technology has on his/her students’ developments. Assuming and expecting a class can sit quietly for a fifty minute lecture without any varying activity is, at this point in time, unreasonable.
Pure lecturing or reading from a text is not good enough, sticking to this dated teaching strategy is a burden students should no longer carry. It is their right to learn in their language.
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