Now more than ever we have technology to solve problems, answer our questions, and free up more time. What I find to be the most mind-boggling, is that more so than ever, our young people cannot figure out some of the simplest tasks. Is it because we are not doing a good job helping them learn to use the tools? Is it because they’ve grown up in a world where things are easily figured out for them? Is it because they really don’t care about figuring out the answer?
When I asked my 13-year-old son why he turns to me first to answer his question instead of Google he replied, “ Because it’s easier to ask you first then to try to figure it out on my own. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I don’t want to”.
Where have I gone wrong? My own son. The son of a Digital Learning Coordinator who has worked tirelessly with children and adults to help infuse technology into their everyday lives to help make life better, easier, and more for filling. For my own son to choose technology as a last resort to seek out information makes me SMH.
Don’t get me wrong, my son might choose to lose his right arm before losing his device that is in his hand for more hours of the day than not, but what he chooses to use his device for is to connect to the world around him.
So I re-think. Our kids are connected. They do know how to use technology. When it matters to them, they can figure things out. When my son is hungry and I’m not around, he will Google how to make scrambled eggs. Maybe it’s that simple, it’s not the tools he doesn’t know how to use, maybe it’s the space I’m not giving him to figure it out on his own?
I think about the classroom. I think about the disservice we are giving students by spoon feeding them information. I think about all of the learning opportunities lost by not allowing students to figure things out on their own. We must do a better job. This way of thinking and teaching is not easy. I’m certainly not saying that I have all of the answers either. I realize there are barriers and roadblocks we must work through and sometimes around.
What I do know is that this is not about technology. This is about learning and how we must help students be better thinkers. For them the technology is the easy part. We must help by leveraging tools to enhance, extend, and engage students in their learning. We must include in that space and time to figure things out.
My daughter just recently left for her first year in college. She called me after her second week to thank me. She said what she realized is that she can figure things out on her own. She said, “Thank you mom for helping me to be independent.” I guess my many answers of “you figure it out” paid off. Who knows?
As for my 13 year old, I must remember and remind myself that, “you can figure it out” is a phrase that someday he will thank me for.
Whatever “figure it out” looks and sounds like to you, keep it in mind the next time a student, or your own child, asks you a question.
p.s. my inspiration: