Synthesis Essay

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The first day of class began with reading a syllabus. All the students sat quietly as the teacher read aloud what was to be expected. Reading more and more into it, the teacher mentioned that no cell phones were to be used in class…students groaning; typical right? Students had never been allowed to use their cell phones in class, let alone in the school. So why were they so disappointed? Teachers make that rule because cell phones distract students’ learning processes and takes away from good learning.

While Richtel stated that schools shouldn’t rush into using technology so soon, but should have educators focus more on teaching students the old fashioned way, including pen and paper; Sweeney wrote about how it is beneficial to students that they do use technology since they are already used to the different programs out there. Many people think that technology in the classroom is a great way for students to succeed, but technology can hinder a student’s work ethic and they can become lazy.

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In the article “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute,” published in The New York Times, Matt Richtel writes how an Elementary school in California would rather go old fashioned than to fall victim to the newest technology. Richtel agrees by stating how employees of the big technology companies such as Google, Apple and so on would rather have their children using pens and paper, not computers or screens. The schools method consists of a teaching viewpoint made up of physical activity and learning through creative hands-on tasks.

Everyone who approved this said that computers restrain creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. One parent, Alan Eagle, whose children attend the Elementary school quoted, “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school…the idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous” (Richtel, 2). Richtel then concluded that education experts would say that computers in the classroom is gratuitous due to the fact that studies don’t exactly show that this leads to better test scores or other measurable gains.

Richtel wrote about a different way of teaching that did not have to do with technology in the classroom. His general audience is the educators and parents of students, while his purpose was to introduce the audience to a different way of learning. Richtel starts off his article by introducing a school that does well with excluding technology and different electronics from its curriculum. Then he talks about how many schools rush into having technology, when really, less is more. His sentence structures, having it had been in a newspaper, were short and concise, and were very easy to read.

Richtel isn’t choosing a side as to whether or not technology should be used in schools. For the most part, technology can be a good and a bad thing when used for education. It just takes the right kind of teaching to work. In the article “Writing for the Instant Messaging and Text Messaging Generation,” published in The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 54(2), Sheelah M. Sweeney says that using cell phones while in school shows a positive outlook on how well the students do.

Sweeney states that students would not view technology as something new nor find it complicated, using it for two main reasons: texting and seeking out information, either for their schoolwork or for their own interests. She mentions that teens use technology for communication reasons and for expressing their own personalities, such as setting up a Facebook page. Going on, she explains how with different students come different learning styles and different levels of experience using any specific ICT (Information and Communications Technology) programs.

Students expect that even if they don’t use all of this technology out of school, that they will use it for their learning. Sweeney concludes that “the internet is the defining technology for literacy and learning,” especially for this specific generation. Sweeney discusses how cell phones and other technologies should be used in the classroom, instead of forbidding it. Her general audience is educators, parents and the students, while her purpose is to persuade others on how beneficial it is to use this type of technology in the classroom.

Sweeney begins her article by explaining how in this generation, there are children getting cell phones at a young age than there were before. She goes on to explain that the main reason children and teens get cell phones is to keep in contact with friends and family; mostly through texting. She then says that having cell phones in the classroom could be useful due to the fact that all students have different learning styles and it would be easy for students to get used to.

For example, Sweeney mentioned how one teacher used texting in the classroom by sending messages about a Shakespeare assignment to the groups of students she had in her class. Each group had different responsibilities to complete; the students would receive the text on their cell phone, and then send their electronic answer to the teacher also by text. The idea of using cell phones for this project was adapted for writing instruction in which the students brainstormed ideas for creative writing.

Sweeney gives her opinion on how technology should be used in the classroom to help students succeed. Though her article is long, it was a very easy read and would be suitable for any reading level, and making it easy to understand while she seems a credible author. While reading both of these two articles, I was very neutral and almost leaning towards agreeing more with Sweeney’s argument, to have technology and cell phones in the classroom. Towards the end, I thought more and more about the pros and cons of both views, and I began to agree more with Richtel.

At this moment, my view remains the same. I feel that if students were given the chance to use their cell phones or different electronics in school, they would definitely take advantage of it by not listening and losing focus due to the fact that they were texting a friend, pretending that they were using their phone for good use. In my own experiences, the new technology that teachers have us use, such as homework online, can bring down any students grade if they are not used to or familiar with how to work it; but we, as the students have no way to get out of it.

Matt Richtel goes into very good points as to why technology shouldn’t be used with teaching. Like the teachers at the Elementary school in California, who teach their students how to be smart without technology early on will help them later into the future. Using technology in the classroom can prove to be useful, such as students being able to use computers to type papers for their final piece but using cell phones? That would just bring disaster. Using technology will only hinder a students’ capability of learning to do something themselves.

Now more than ever, adolescents would rather look up about a book, instead of actually taking time to read it. Since there is new technology everywhere you look, people are becoming more dependent on it then before. Many schools should actually take the time and teach students how to do things without having to rely on computers or cell phones as much as they do. They should think about the impact of what technology does to students and really input that in schools. School administrators should also be stricter on the use of cell phones due to the focus lost by their students while texting.


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