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Screens Down, Learning Up

Recently, The Harvard Graduate School of Education tweeted a story with the headline: “Student Learning Goes Up When Devices Shut Down.” The story highlighted a movement among college professors of education to reduce or remove student technology from their classrooms. Naturally, as professors, they studied the results of their digital clean-up and found that classrooms with less technology had higher scores and better learning outcomes. As I read, I reflected on the many times that I was evaluated as a teacher for my aptitude in “technology integration.” For years, educators have been hearing that we need to be doing more with technology, such as digitizing our lessons, our assessments, and our homework. The promised exchange for this digital revolution in the school was that we’d have better engagement, more innovative and timely instruction, and we’d be building relevant skills for our students’ futures. As it turns out, more technology does not always mean more learning or more engagement. It can often mean less.


At The Oaks, we are proudly tech-free. The majority of our students do not remember the world before smartphones, and all of them have experienced the consequences of a world inundated with technology. For our students today, there will never be a world without directions coming through a phone, without a camera in their pocket, or without the answers to any question that are just a Google search away. While that convenience is primarily positive, it also means that our students could go through life without ever removing a digital tether to the larger world. Our job as educators is to open the eyes of our students to the rest of the world around them and teach them to engage it with critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. We believe the best way to accomplish this is to eliminate the crutch of technology in the classroom.


As I typed this blog post on my laptop and posted it on the internet, it occurred to me that you may think my stance is ironic. However, at The Oaks, we understand that technology has an important place in the world; truly, we know the world would not function well without it! We simply want our students to learn how to learn without technology, so that when it is introduced, it will be used responsibly and as a supplement to the critical thinking process, not as a replacement for it. We want to create a culture of inquiry and engagement, where answers are discovered through analysis, observation, discussion, and yes, even some intellectual struggle - not through a search engine.


At The Oaks, our primary goal is for our students to grow in their knowledge and understanding of creation and their Creator. With the understanding that learning without devices will accomplish that in a more meaningful way, that’s just what we do. The Oaks is a brand new learning community pioneering a new model of school, for a new generation of students. We welcome applications from qualified students throughout the year, and we invite you to come and learn more for yourself.


All the best,

Dan

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