From the Principal

The world we live in is one that is saturated in technology. Each of our days, from the start to the finish, involve interaction with digital technology. I even wear technology that will tell me how steadily I slept the night before. Does it help me sleep better? Well not at all, but at least I know why I might feel more or less tired, one day to the next.

Education is also soaked in technology, with new curriculum directing schools to develop digital citizenship skills. As a school, we are rapidly approaching the start of our ‘BYOD for Learning’ launch at the start of 2018. I encourage you to look to our Information booklet to check how it involves your child. In the coming fortnight, we will also be publishing videos to explain key features to help your family prepare. Specific videos have been prepared for different key stages of schooling. Click here to see Mr Burns discuss the needs for Year 5, 2018.

I have had a number of conversations with families regarding the pros and cons of introducing BYOD at William Carey. It is true that to rush in with open arms and embrace ‘everything that is new’ has had negative impacts on student learning in a number of schools. At the same time, to avoid providing our students with the opportunity to learn through redefined classroom experiences will also limit their future opportunities.

Thus, it is important that we approach the use of technology, as an integrated part of student learning, with our eyes open and through adopting ways of thinking and acting that enhance wise and safe use of technology.

To support wise and safe use of technology, William Carey has joined the eSMART Schools program and will be implementing their framework to support students, their families and our staff in the continued development of a cyber-safe environment.

Secondly, I would like to encourage families and students to adopt the mindset that the ‘BYOD for Learning’ device is for learning, rather than for entertainment. Digital technology delivers both education and entertainment in highly effective ways. Our students need to be able to differentiate between these two distinct uses, not confuse the two and attempt to do both at the same time. Students also need to ensure they have regular breaks from screens for other activities.

Thirdly, the ‘BYOD for Learning’ devices will not include smart phones. There are practical reasons why we are not including smart phones (primarily related to screen size) but smart phones are being linked to negative impacts on a whole generation.

Smart Phones Have Destroyed a Generation is an article written by Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego University. Her area of interest is generational differences.

Twenge makes the case that the current generation of adolescent people are demonstrating abrupt differences with previous generations with reference both to their behaviours and to their emotional states. The article is substantial, and will probably require 15 minutes of reading time, but my strong encouragement to parents of adolescents and those who will be soon is to make the time to read it.

Her argument is that, “The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.” Her point is not to indulge in nostalgia for days gone by, but to understand the lived reality of our children.

Her central argument is “… the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.”

This article caused quite a deal of online conversation (ironically) and you may agree or disagree with the strength of Twenge’s arguments. However, I would urge you to take the following steps to engage in developing a wise and safe cyber safe environment for your children at home and at school:

  1. Discuss these matters with another adult who can help support you in your care for your child.
  2. Find ways to engage your child in discussion regarding safe and wise use of technology.
  3. Model wise and safe technology use to your child.
  4. Do not assume that your child is, or your child’s contacts are, exercising the level of self-control you would like them to. So negotiate with them how you can be part of their online world.
  5. For the sake of your child’s emotional and mental health, do whatever you can to keep their smart phone out of their bedroom.

But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever.
May You shelter them,
and may those who love Your name boast about You.
For You, Lord, bless the righteous one;
You surround him with favour like a shield.

Psalm 5:11

 

Keith McMullen,
Principal