For Everything Gained…

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March 7, 2014 by Ray Yanek

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Earlier this week I wrote about how technology is further changing the high school classroom.  I explained how I already use quite a few of the fancy new Google apps and how I grade most of my writing assignments  electronically. You can read that post here: The ICE Age Cometh…

Then, in the post, I fawned over  these technological advances like I drool over the vision of a fat rack of delectably, sweet, steaming, smoky pork ribs while my tubby ass wobbles on the treadmill.

Pork ribs…

They are calling...

They are calling…

Focus.  Focus….

Right.

Today though, I’m hear to remind myself of the great words Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, claiming that “for everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

No where else is this quote more applicable than in regards to the ‘gains’ technology has given us.  We all have our cell phones with the numbers of our friends plugged into them.  The other day I asked someone to throw me his digits (hey, I teach high school; I’m down with the lingo…) and the person looked at me like I was stupid. No, not because of my hip lingo smart-ass, but because this person had to go into his phone to find his own phone number.  He couldn’t remember it off the top of his head.

I almost called him a dipshit until I realized that I often don’t remember my own number.  If someone asks me for it, I can simply hit a few buttons on my phone and text him my contact info as a v-card.

And please don’t ask me to tell you my wife’s phone number.

For everything we gain…

Ralph don't need to stinking Chromebook...

Ralph don’t need to stinking Chromebook…

Not long ago there was a big kerfuffle (like I told you Homie, I’m down with the modern slang) about elementary schools no longer teaching cursive writing because now most writing  is done with a keyboard.  Ask a cashier to manually count back change and odds are you’ll be standing there for awhile trying to figure out if either one of you have gotten it right. Spelling skills have plummeted (mine included, and for me those skills were never that great in the first place) because spell check will do it for us, and this list could go on and on.

For everything we gain…

I have a new one to add to that list.  When I first started grading with Google Docs and Drive, I noticed that a lot of my senior students were forgetting to capitalize the first person pronoun ‘I’ in their reading responses.  At first I brushed this off as careless proofreading, which, as you can tell from this blog, I am intimately familiar with.  As usual, these students were probably waiting until the last minute to write the responses.

Typical.

But then I started to see this capitalization error more and more, in different course sections, with students who are normally a week ahead on assignments.  

I held my tongue for awhile and then finally let loose with a tirade that sent me both to confession and administrative remediation.  But this error was driving me nuts, and I needed to know why this kept happening.

It was simply, my students told me.  When they used Microsoft Word, the default

But still, they're just so much fun to play with...

But still, they’re just so much fun to play with…

settings of the program would automatically capitalize the ‘I’.  Google Docs doesn’t do that for them…

Yeah, um…well.  Good call once again, Mr. Emerson.

For everything gained…

On a note somewhat similar to this post and the ICE post, I’m going to include a link to a posting the tech director at my high school sent me regarding things that are now becoming obsolete in modern classrooms.

That post is here… “14 Things That Are Obsolete In 21st Century Classrooms”.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this article, or if you have any other good example of how gaining something in the classroom has taken something else away, let me know.

Take care.

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