El Segundo High School

Why technology isn’t to blame

The pen is mightier than the sword, evidently. However, us humans are constantly expanding our wants to the newest, most groundbreaking innovations. How, as a society that is constantly allured by the romantic appeal of new devices, have we never come to ask, “what is mightier than the pen?”. The answer is simple: the stylus.

Many believe that as humans, we are only as smart as the tools we create. Nevertheless, prior to innovations such as tablets, computers, and smartphones, it was impossible that a singular device knew more than an individual could learn in a lifetime. Yes, people had to face the trek to the local library to borrow a textbook, and do manual research with a real pen and an actual, palpable piece of paper: the unthinkable. Yes, the argument is tired: technology is instant gratification to the mind that can never have too many unanswered questions.

Critics may argue that this technological “dependability” is most apparent in Millennials. To them, technology breeds short-term thinkers, inefficient employees, and most offensively, forgetful and undedicated students. The implementation of new technologies in the classroom is controversial: why give more gleaming touchscreens to students who seem to center their lives around their iPhones? Even worse, why put them at risk for more technological dependability in the area where students go to learn, and ultimately, think for themselves? The answer is clear: technology is an outlet, not a roadblock. Similar to the real pen and palpable piece of paper, classroom technologies, such as iPads and Chromebooks, are man-made instruments. They are nothing but newer tools in the course of educational evolution.

In the modern classroom, teaching is a redesigned practice: teachers, instead of all-knowing dictators, are facilitators that encourage the development of ideas and outside learning. Classroom technology gives students the chance to explore subjects of interest, and gain further knowledge and independence. Learning becomes connected to real life, as opposed to just memorizing a textbook passage. With changes in learning come changes in tools.

In 2013, my school, El Segundo High School, began providing iPads for each student to use in the classroom. Being surrounded by the sounds of clicking fingernails on a touchscreen has made me realize that the use of modern technology is similar to its development: a direct result of what we put in. Technology does not create poor habits: it serves as a scapegoat for their pre-existence. iPads do not force students to be off-task. At my school, to the high-achieving students, iPads help cultivate the classroom learning environment by functioning as a way to turn in assignments, catalog homework, and even display interactive textbooks. To lower-achieving students, they serve as ways to check ESPN or take selfies without getting caught. The implementation of iPads only serves as a mirror of the pre-existing habits of the student. A work ethic is not determined by the existence of a tool, but how the tool is used.

So, if the stylus is the new pen, at the end of a day of clicking and swiping, it is merely an outlet for whatever is in our brains. Why blame technology for its potential, when, in reality, it is only a glitzy, shiny mirror?