Nepal | July 02, 2020

Technology vs real life learning: Travel, books motivate students

Mira Gotame
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Having worked as a teacher for over a decade, I have realised that students get more knowledge if they travel to new places and read more books. Their knowledge is much greater as experiential learning will always be recalled more easily

Dear teacher, please seat my child in the first row,” is a statement often made by the parents. It shows that parents are concerned, not only for their children’s physical growth but also their mental growth. By sitting in the front, they hope that their child will listen and understand everything the teachers are teaching. But does that happen in reality? In the current technological age, teaching has become a challenging job. Students are less and less motivated to listen, read and learn, regardless of which corner they are seated in.

Technological advancements have created a variety of new distractions for the younger generation, distractions which have had ruinous effects on them. Today’s children often hesitate to open a book, are reluctant to listen, and generally lack engagement in traditional teaching environments. Their creativity has also taken a hit, as children have started plagiarising their school assignments off the internet. They fail to pay attention towards academic subjects, but are ahead of the adults when it comes to some new technology. Physical problems, such as poor eyesight and lack of sleep due to overuse of gadgets, are also becoming more commonplace.

Of course, technology hasn’t only resulted in negatives. It has the potential to substantially improve student productivity, but only with proper guidance.

However, if we are to find ways through which to control the amount of time children spend on gadgets and such other distractions, we have to play a proactive role. Where there is a will, there is a way. As parents, we can motivate and help our children to read more literature. We can also take them for short hikes. Having worked as a teacher for over a decade, I have realised that students get more knowledge if they travel to new places and read more books. The students who travel a lot have many things to share in class. Their horizon of knowledge is much greater as experiential learning will always be recalled more easily than learning in the traditional academic environment.

Travelling to new places helps improve understanding regarding different people, places and their lifestyles. Hence, economic activities that people engage in and the surroundings in which they do so can be more easily understood. They will learn to cope up with the environment and be able to find the facts of science that they are taught in classrooms in nature. They can touch and feel the things themselves. As a teacher, I see that all classroom subjects are somehow integrated into our surroundings.

Among the different types of intelligence proposed by American psychologist Dr Howard Gardner, students with linguistic intelligence can easily get benefits from the environment. I think nature is synonymous with beauty, peace and calmness. Thus, the serenity of nature can help in creative writing. The ones with spatial intelligence can click photos and link their learning with pictures. These ‘picture smart’ students can also utilise their interest in their studies. Hiking in the wilderness will not only be beneficial for the ‘bodily-kinesthetic’ learners but for all types of learners. Since they can meet and talk to different people, the students with interpersonal intelligence (people smart) can also receive benefits.

By further engaging with the environment, students will be able to observe things in the text books and discern them in nature by themselves. But this is only possible if we let them venture out into nature.
What we have to do is just take them to the countryside with a purpose, which doesn’t take a lot of time or money. They can learn and have fun at the same time.

Similarly, the ones who read more books of literature will definitely obtain more knowledge. They can acquire knowledge from every corner of the world. In my opinion, the most significant thing about reading books is that it enhances students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills. This particular skill will always help them whenever they face problems in life. Reading about the characters in storybooks will aid in teaching them empathy.

The soft skills for life can be instilled by reading literature. The imaginary world of the readers will broaden. They can reach the places they were never supposed to reach. They will know what it’s like to go from rags to riches. Only an empty vessel makes more noise. And when the knowledge scaffolds, they turn out to be critical thinkers. On the other hand, the good readers will never be short of vocabulary.

They can eventually write better since reading can easily be reflected in their writings. They can excel in creative writing. On top of that, their spellings will also improve. In this digitalised era, students have become habituated to writing in abbreviations. They tend to forget that they are doing homework, which leads them to spell words as if they are chatting in social media. Children who read more books never make such mistakes. They will always be ready for impromptu writing.

Having a change of heart, we can help our children by encouraging them to explore these places. They should also be motivated to read as many books as possible. If we succeed, then there will be no room for regrets and grumbling. As adults, we may gift them the books of their level on many occasions in order to begin a tradition.

A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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