Hands-on skills disappearing from schools

Former teacher laments that many of the reasons for learning in a classroom are disappearing.

Dear Editor

As I gaze into my crystal ball and watch former colleagues walking the picket lines, I ask the question that enters my mind. Have teachers become redundant? In the rapidly expanding electronic age of iPods, iPads, lap tops and iPhones, etc., can education be delivered from some distant point by an instructor designated by the government to impart whatever knowledge they choose to feed children and adults?

The courses requiring a classroom are gradually disappearing from our schools, home economics, mechanics, woodworking, metalworking, drama, and music. What does that leave? English, socials, math and science. My understanding is that penmanship is no longer required, as students are unable to sign their names. This comes from friends who have gone with their children to open bank accounts only to find that their children do not know how to sign the forms. These were not young elementary school children, rather those well into high school. Where has that unique quality which distinguished us as individuals gone?

We have become so dependent on the social media to connect us with others, texting rather than talking and tapping in to the internet to find solutions to problems as they arise. A world full of information at the touch of a screen, so much greater than our imaginations can fathom.

Please understand this is not a condemnation of the colleagues I have had the opportunity to share many life experiences with. It is a brief look at what the future may hold. Think about it, no schools to maintain, no maintenance staffs, no school buses to be driven, no teaching assistants, no teachers. The only administration necessary would be those who decide and deliver that information they deem appropriate.

Yes and at some point do parents also become only the means of producing future generations of state educated clones, or do they (children) come from a long black tube. The government is taking more control of the family, making decisions around what determines child abuse and how we discipline our children as well as what defines the family grouping.

Is the science fiction of yesteryear coming to pass?  Are Huxley’s “Animal Farm” and Orwell’s “1984” as well as Fahrenheit 451 becoming reality? I am also reminded of the film “Logan’s Run” and at what point do human beings outlive their usefulness.

My hope is that the differences between educators and government can be resolved rapidly, because I still believe that education is best when there is the classroom interaction between students and their teachers. Of course I am probably a bit of a dinosaur, I would rather talk than text and I enjoy social interaction with others physically present.

Perhaps one day in the not too distant future I will be able to play tennis on the computer with my tennis pals and we won’t even have to leave our homes. Imagine not having to worry about the weather, playing anytime of the day or night and any season of the year. We can swing a racket at a screen and the computer will determine where the ball lands based on your swing. Your opponent does the same at their screen as they see the ball coming into their room.

Are these the pennings of an old timer or perhaps a glimpse into the not so distant future? As far as my future goes, I still enjoy meeting folks at the Safety Mart and Post Office. I like the shake of a hand or a hug, as opposed to the ring of a phone and a text.

I am so thankful that amid all the changes taking place, I know who holds tomorrow.

Mike Baldwin

Ashcroft

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