By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Every week several hours are put into writing this column. A lot of trees are sacrificed. Money is freely spent at Staples buying packages of 8×11 yellow-lined legal pads. The ink from a multitude of pens, courtesy of a local bank, is used in order to produce this column.
Once written, it is dictated to my wife who types the long hand on the pages into a word processor. It is then visually checked for grammar, punctuation and spelling. It is then reread several times over several hours, portions occasionally being changed or deleted until satisfaction with the final product is attained. It is then sent to the editor of the TCT.
My wife and I, like many others in this community, would never submit or sign our names to a document full of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. In school it was drilled into us that your writing went a long way in defining who you were to the public.
Sadly these days, many have lost the skills to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing.
Unfortunately society’s love affair with technology has invaded our schools. These technological crutches rob students of the basic skills needed to advance our society. The ability to use paper and pen to solve problems has been lost to calculators and computers.
Most students use the Internet to research assignments given out in class. Unlike books found at your local library, the Internet is full of misinformation posted by individuals whose credibility is suspect. Add to this the frustration on the faces of high school students unable to correctly make change without the cash register’s instructions. This causes one to pause and ask: Are we as a society really advancing?
It is time to audit our schools and assess whether we need to rethink policies and mechanics used to provide our children with a proper education. When building a house, you provide a proper foundation before adding the floors. Are our school children being given a solid foundation before moving onto the first floor? Or is all this new advanced technology being used to the detriment of our children’s education?
Daily we see children unable to do simple math either in their head or on paper. Writing skills have dropped. Many people have turned to their computers, abandoning the power within their minds to solve basic problems. This serves to further decrease our ability to evaluate and solve a problem should the electricity go out or (God forbid) our laptop battery dies.
There is also a serious health issue brought on by technology—stress. Those who depend on technology seem always to be in a hurry and show very little patience when an answer is not accessed immediately. It is time to stop listening to the many self-proclaimed and highly acclaimed experts who have no idea what is going on in our classrooms.
Many, with the exception of their school days, have never been in a classroom. Others haven’t seen a classroom in years. The faith and trust put into the theories of these alleged experts appears to be dumbing down our children.
It is also time to stop the excessive mandated testing perpetually going on in our schools. This is taking valuable teaching time away from our children. If you must test, do it during the last two weeks of school. This test should be designed to measure the student’s proficiency of that year’s studies.
Lastly, if you want to improve your schools, listen to the teachers. They are at ground zero. They know what’s wrong and can give any school administration a well-thought-out solution to get the school back on track. You can bet it will be a real workable solution.
To the readers of this column, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and to our Jewish readers, a belated Happy Hanukkah.