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Marmion’s Manly Man: Is upgrading tech always a good idea?

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

With the race to transform schools into more tech-friendly environments and develop students into computer-savvy individuals, millions of dollars allocated to education are spent on faster Internet connections and new computers.

Does easier access to computers and the Internet, however, translate into higher grades and test scores?

I’ll propose a situation – suppose a parent tells his or her small kid that he or she can have one chocolate chip cookie from the high-up cookie jar. The kid would probably stick to the parent’s rules and only take one.

Let’s say that parent, while leaving the room, has 10 cookie jars and puts them all on the floor.

Sure, there might be a fair amount of trust between the kid and the parent, but the temptation of eating one’s self into a sugar- and chocolate-induced coma might prove stronger.

Now, the only cookies one will find on a computer aren’t particularly tasty, but the same principle remains.

As most high school teachers and administrators can affirm, the teenage population is the most responsible and trustworthy group of learners beyond comparison.

Given the ability to use the Internet, I’m sure most high school students would take the opportunity to better their education and, of course, not peruse YouTube videos of dancing llamas and foxes. There may be a few, however, that fall to the various temptations of the virtual world.

From my own viewpoint as a student who has succumbed to the temptation of the cookie and the computer, I can say that technology abuse within schools runs rampant.

Many employ the help of personal laptops and tablets for “note taking” during class. For those who do use these devices, the notes they take seem much more entertaining than the commonplace script that fills my notebooks.

Perhaps it is the fact that my 70-sheet, one-subject, college-ruled notebook from Jewel does not have the means of loading Facebook or Twitter.

Or perhaps the ability to take computer notes has allowed those students to both transcribe notes and play “Angry Birds” at the exact same time. Technology manages to fascinate me every day.

Having more technology in schools won’t solve all of the problems with our current educational system. In fact, all those new computers may only add to them.

Don’t get me wrong; computers and the Internet have the potential to be great education tools, if used in the proper capacity. To learn, I think a person needs a teacher that knows the material and engages the pupils in an exciting manner.

For all the money spent on new technology in schools, maybe administrators and politicians should redirect some of those funds to the most important part of a school – the teachers.

• Kurt Zepeda is a St. Charles resident and a senior at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys running, writing and the occasional confection. His column runs every other Thursday in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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