Many teachers still prefer old school approach

Freddie Wilhelm | Staff Writer

You will not catch students in Tim King’s Words from the Wild class carrying around Chromebooks when they take their walks in the wild.

While most teachers are utilizing the newly implemented Chrombooks in their classes, King chose to take the old school approach.

“We don’t have to have Chromebooks,” King said. “We do a published journal at the end of Words from the Wild where students type three pieces from their journals, so we use technology to publish. We also use iNaturalist. It’s a good app to find out what sort of species you’ve found, and sometimes we share these sort of things on Twitter, but I don’t need this technology in the class.”

The Mason High School teaching staff is composed of seasoned teaching vets and some who are still in the early stages of their teaching career. Even though King did open his first twitter account this year, he fondly recalls the days when there was little technology.

“When I first started in 1983, there was one computer lab for a class called Microcomputing, and you had to take that class to even use computers in class,” King said. “There were no computers in the classroom, there was no email, cell phones or anything like that, and we got along just fine, and the education was great.”

One thing King said he preferred, specifically, was the grading system before technology.

“A big change is the way we grade,” King said. “We used to just have the grade in the book, it was great to not show every student what grade they had, you didn’t have the students study or not study based on what grade they needed on an exam to get a certain grade in the class. It used to be private to the teacher.”

The move to embrace more technology in the classroom also comes with some challenges. Teachers must learn to combat the adolescent mind and the short attention span of teenagers who are more focused on the computer screen instead of the teacher.

English teacher TJ Wilson believes teachers are still a little resistant to the Chromebooks because they are concerned students will not pay attention to the teacher.

“I think people are scared of (Chromebooks) because we know that we’re easily distracted by things,” Wilson said.

King said that to avoid these distractions, he likes to keep it old school.

“Well (Words from the Wild) is an exception,” King said. “I’ve been teaching this class pretty much the same way I always have; it’s a throwback, hands on, old fashion. It’s nature based, we make journals, we write in pen and turn in papers.”

Wilson said that due to many studies done about the difference between typing and writing notes, he prefers his students set their Chromebooks to the side and take notes on paper.

“I prefer paper (notes), because of the study (that) was done at Stanford, where if you give a laptop to a kid or adult they transcribe it,” Wilson said. “When instead, you want students to ingest it and put their own brain down.”

Spanish teacher Jane Margraf who has been teaching for 31 years believes good old fashion pen and paper still have a place in the modern classroom.

“I’ve found out this year, with all my homework on chromebooks, a lot of students aren’t doing it and then ask for pencil and paper because they prefer it.” Margraf said.

Wilson said the biggest obstacle with every student having a device is adapting it to the classroom.

“All throughout the ages, Socrates said that writing things down would be the bane of our memory,” Wilson said. “So far it hasn’t happened, but, at the same time, are we going to continuously use paper or are we going to adapt? Smartphones aren’t going away anytime soon. What I think I struggle with, and what others are struggling with, is how do we adapt to have the same meaningful feeling.”