Learning in the 21st Century

“The classroom of the future isn’t a classroom. Today’s students are wired for a digital world where time and place simply don’t matter.” Echo360

I read this on a website last year and I found it again when I was going through my files. If this is true it really makes you wonder why we insist on classrooms as the delivery mode for learning, and that subjects must be taught in a particular order and manner through the years. The reality is children of this day and age are so digitally different than children twenty years ago. What worked before is not as relevant today. For example,  children are not as dependent on teachers as they used to be. With the amount of information that is easily accessible online, children (by a certain age), can research about almost any topic they want to learn about. Children don’t have to be limited by a teacher’s lesson plan. Instead, they need to understand how to use the internet wisely and be protected from the junk that is just as accessible as the good stuff.

I told my kids some years ago, “If you ever see anything on the internet that shows naked people or something scary, just run away! And tell mommy or daddy. Don’t even look at it.” They aren’t aloud to be on sites like YouTube and as much as possible, we avoid having them online when we are not around. I often think of that verse, “The devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Surely, he is after our children, too. And if they are in a vulnerable situation, he can find an opening. Personally, I feel that the internet is a gateway. It is a gateway to the knowledge of good and of evil. Boys are especially susceptible to the smut that is out there. All it takes is one accidentally spelled word on the search bar and they could have their first introduction to pornography. And so we are a bit overprotective when it comes to the internet. Instead, our children use my Ipad, and only the apps that I have installed.

A few years ago, I was not a believer in technology as a means to educate kids. But after experiencing the wonders of Apple’s Ipad and talking to educators about the effects of computer-based learning, my mindset changed. I realized that technology is not the devil. Sure, we must safeguard our children from the evils that technology can introduce them to. But, there are very real benefits that gadgets like Ipads offer.

My children have played a game called  Stack the Countries and  Stack the States for about two months. They don’t play these games everyday. In fact, they only have extended time to play on the weekends. There are occasions when we are out at dinner and my Ipad helps to keep them in a contained space. Otherwise, their time on this device is very much monitored. But, this mode of learning is so effective that my kids (especially my two older boys) have memorized every single country in the world and its location. I taught them zero geography lessons. My geography is pathetic. But because of these apps, my kids know continents and countries and they began researching about other information — capitals, peoples, languages spoken, flags, etc. I provided them with an atlas, globe, map, and other useful tools to do their research. Yet, this isn’t “hard work” for them. It is enjoyable and fascinating. They get a sense of fulfillment out of learning these things.

We had a contest the other afternoon in the office to see who could name a country that my kids didn’t know. These are the silly ways we peddle our children’s intellects! It was all in good fun. People were asking them countries I didn’t even know. But they spun the globe around each time and pointed with crazy accuracy to the exact location of the country. I can’t take any credit for this ability they have. In fact, I often think that my kids are smarter than I am (intellect-wise…but wisdom-wise, well, that’s totally different!)

I’m sharing this to encourage parents to consider investing in an Ipad or something similar. Don’t ask me what these other devices might be. I’m not a techy person at all! If you have more than one child, it really helps to have a device that can assist you in the areas where you are academically weak. So, I research about educational apps that are worth $0.99 to $5 each because they are great supplements to what I teach them. And, my children can go far beyond my own capacities, too. They don’t have to be limited by what I know and don’t know.

Do my kids play other games on the Ipad, for entertainment purposes? At this point, no. They used to play a game called Plants vs. Zombies which I realized was doing nothing for their intellect. For now, the Ipad is for educational games only. If they are going to spent a good 30 minutes on that device, I want it to be something that makes a positive contribution to their lives. They are learning to internalize the value of wise time management — whatever you do, let it be purposeful, to help you grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)

And of course, never settle for just intellectual capacity in your kids. Their hearts and their character are still more important than knowing things like all the names of the countries in the world! 🙂


3 thoughts on “Learning in the 21st Century

  1. Hi Joy… Am a big fan of educational iPad apps. i have quite a lot that we use for the kids. Was even thinking of setting up a Facebook group for TMA parents who are fans of iOS educational apps. Was thinking of using that to post notices whenever these apps are on sale and also to exchange app ideas with other hoemschooling parents.

    1. Nono, Were you able to set up a Facebook account for fans of educational apps? We are in the States but I am very much interested to be part of this group. Thanks. Btw, I am the wife of Steven Chua.

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