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Back To The Future of Education

Advancements in technology have undoubtedly enhanced various aspects of our lives. Technology has revolutionized healthcare, enabling early disease detection and advanced treatments. In automotive it has introduced more eco-friendly vehicles and has contributed to safer driving with Lidar technology. There is one place where technology has clearly failed to deliver on the great promise it made. That’s education. We once naively believed that simply granting students access to the internet superhighway would suffice. We thought it would empower them with endless knowledge and skills. Oh boy, how wrong were we.

Just as this realization was dawning upon educators and experts, Covid hit, forcing schools into remote learning. Here we have to hand it to technology, it proved to be invaluable, enabling schools and teachers to continue education online, while allowing all of us to work remotely. Despite the challenges and limitations of this setup, we were grateful for any form of education we could offer, understanding that even flawed remote schooling was preferable to none at all.

With the pandemic receding, we find ourselves facing a new challenge: the lingering effects of the "Long Covid" syndrome on our education system. The fact that many schools now have more Chromebooks than students does not mean we should continue with the Covid inertia and mindlessly impose excessive screen time on our students. Placing children in front of screens in the classroom, isolating them with headphones to connect to the internet, and relying on interactive sites is an inherently flawed approach. In such cases, students may as well be at home, missing out on the benefits that physical classrooms can provide.

The future of education really lies in embracing the good things of the past. We must return to the fundamentals that have proven effective, such as handwriting instead of typing and fostering genuine eye contact between students and their teachers. Our focus should be on the classroom experience itself, minimizing distractions (which are an integral part of using Chromebooks) and emphasizing active engagement. While it is true that kids will likely use laptops in their adult lives, we must resist the urge to introduce them at the elementary school level, where children should have the freedom to be young and explore their education without expecting them to act like miniature adults, typing away, their eyes on their Chromebook screens.

Does this mean technology has no place in schools? Of course not. It means we need technology that keeps the good things and adds more good things. A promising step in the right direction is the recent introduction of Paper Tablets into schools. These devices feature paper-like screens that emit no harmful blue light and provide a tactile writing experience that feels just like writing on paper. It offers the advantages of reading from a book and writing in a notebook, with a fraction of the weight, no clutter, and zero environmental impact. It’s going back, to go forward to the future, but in the right way.


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