My Take

There's still a place for pen and paper in education

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 1:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 2:59pm

I don't know whether it's my two teenage kids' fault or that of their school. They hate using pens to write or picking up newspapers, magazines and books to read.

Instead, they prefer to use computers all the time, typing instead of writing, reading online instead of reading from a book or a newspaper.

Their school, an international one, has gone digital as far as possible. It's e-learning multiplied by 10. Even we parents have to go online to check the kids' homework and test scores. Homework, once done, is submitted electronically.

Needless to say, every pupil gets a nice Apple laptop, which is essential for work in class as well. For out-of-school exercises in maths and physics, my wife makes our children go to a website where all the problems are studied, solved and graded electronically.

We have subscribed to National Geographic for years, but our kids rarely ever touch its magazines. My teenage son is into politics but he won't read a physical newspaper, even though his old man works for one, and reads news only online. I suppose it's a generational thing. I hate reading from news websites, and holding a physical paper in the morning is still a pleasure.

My children's aversion to the use of papers, not just newspapers, I suspect, extends to books. Now, it's not unusual for teenagers not to like reading.

But as far as I can tell, my kids are actually curious and like to read, so long as it's online.

Now, I am not blaming excessive e-learning at their school, though its benefits seem much exaggerated.

I really don't think you need to bother training kids at an early age to use an Apple. They learn by themselves. It's getting to be a bit like teaching children to use a smartphone when it's more likely they know far more than you do. If we really want kids to develop computer skills, teach them higher levels of use such as software coding. Alas, that has not made it into our mainstream local curriculum.

According to the BBC, some schools in Britain are cutting back on the use of e-learning, and going back to traditional pen-and-paper education. There is a place for digital learning in school and at home. But I like to think traditional books and paper media still have a place in the world of learning.