Caroline Gallagher looks at the pressures of parenting and the role of technology in education.
Bio: My name is Caroline Gallagher and I am a mother of two, my son is 12 years old and is just finishing his first year in secondary school and my daughter is 21 and has just arrived back from her international year abroad at the University of South Florida. I am a freelance consultant currently working on Criminal Justice policies with the National Offender Management Service.
In our modern age we learn to adapt on an almost daily basis to new technologies. As a parent, this is both frightening and exciting; it opens up a world of opportunity for learning on the go, for researching and exploring.
There are many pressures on parents to keep up to date not only with technology itself, but also the methods of how to access it. Gone are my days of thumbing through a five thousand page encyclopaedia when my son can answer a question with Google in milliseconds! Being in touch with the latest gadgets becomes more of an expectation than a skill, and learning how to work with programmes such as Siri means that kids are constantly on the go, adapting to a modern world where handwriting is being replaced with typing and typing is being replaced with emoticons.
Positives of the increased role of technology in education include the fact that children who must have days off for whatever reason can watch recorded classes online so as not to miss out, and even Skype questions of whether the resources are available to them via their school – even tutors now offer online sessions which means parents with busy schedules (or who may need some help themselves!) can assist their children to stay on top of their studies from wherever they are.
The internet is certainly key in education now and not just because of learning based websites such as BBC Bitesize. My son’s school lists their homework online to ensure there are no cheeky deadlines missed or forgotten, and so that we parents have access to their work so as to monitor their progress and see where extra help may be needed. Technology is vital for our children to stay on top of learning when academia is changing so vastly all the time.
However I believe that children today have become somewhat dependent on the internet as their sole source of learning outside, and often inside the classroom. Hence, while I would argue undoubtedly that technology is of course an aid to learning, there is only so much a child can learn in a classroom.
I believe that extracurricular activities, in which children can learn more about themselves and discover the wider world around them is just as vital to improve social skills and encourage confidence. Technology should go alongside with hands on, real life experiences in order to develop their own opinions and learning outside of set texts.