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A TALE OF SMART PHONES AND DUMB LESSONS
NO LINKAGE WITH LEARNING
Punjab government has started distribution of 1,73,823 smart phones to students of government schools who are studying in class XII. With this decision, state government is acting towards its government school children like a nouveau riche half literate doting father who pays scant attention towards a child’s demand for books and happily arranges all smart gadgets in the name of so called smart learning.
If government wants to give young students smart phone for entertainment, it is welcome, but it should not happen in the name of learning. This is a cruel joke on sincere parents. For a school student, a smart phone is one of the biggest hurdles in learning. How this hurdle began to be touted as compulsory condition for learning is only a matter of further investigation. Smart phone is more for social media connectivity and less for social connectivity. Social media runs on the principle of attention economy and it is a constant highway of trolls, prejudices, post-truth world information and many more dangers which cause a great disruption in the process of student’s learning, so smart phones are a recipe for long term damage to the learning.
NEED FOR INFORMATION GATE-KEEPING
A school is with a boundary. A class room is also with a boundary. A text book or any book has a boundary. It is these boundaries that control the traffic of world around the students. Learning requires discipline which was made possible by boundaries. Plato learnt this lesson after the death of Socrates that teaching philosophy at market square can be dangerous. Why does Punjab government want to place its students at the meeting square of information highway?
Corona is one time disruption. No disruption in the history of civilization has acted as permanent disruption. It seems that government is planning to make current temporary arrangement in to a permanent setup where students shall get connected with the world of learning only through smart phone . Information gate keeping is one of the most important task in information technology. With smart phones in the hands of teen age children, what kind of information gate keeping is possible there? Let us dismantle all brick and mortar world of learning and all regulations regarding curriculum committees, school boards, experts etc, if the smart phone has to be placed at the centre of world of learning.
TECHNOLOGY INDUCED DUMBNESS
International studies have made it clear that Google affects memory (recall and retention) and it is called of Googling of memory. It is also found that AI driven predictive spelling affects one’s writing skills. Screen reading is a long term damage to cognition process. It will affect their concentration. Smart phone may have some use for a mature person. But teen age students passing through the most sensitive phase of physical changes and psychological challenges are certainly not fit candidates for smart phones. All these things apart, government knows better. History of colonialism makes it amply clear that government acts according to what it thinks best. Like our previous colonial masters, it has every right to show contemptuous disregard for voices from below.