Technology, more than ITC
by Beverley Paine, Feb 2002
Technology embraces all the tools humanity has developed over aeons, not simply computers and other electronic gadgets. In our family we happily take advantage of technology to suit our needs and interests. We've found that the key to managing a life immersed in technology is using it thoughtfully. This is much easier to achieve than employing will power, especially when it comes to using the television or computer!
In our early homeschooling days the television was used sparingly, mostly because the children didn't find it as exciting or interesting as play and other activities. We made it clear that the television was a 'tool', used primarily for education and entertainment and that once our purpose for using it was satisfied it needed to be put away, just like any other tool - in this case, turned off.
We adopted much the same approach when computers found their way into our lives. As a tool, they need to be used, respected and cared for like any other tool - thoughtfully. "Use the right tool for the job" is something my dad often said. That always meant asking if a more appropriate tool or method would achieve the same result, perhaps more efficiently. Educational programs rarely attracted our attention as the children seemed to learn best from hands-on and practical activities such as art and craft, building, making games, gardening and so on. Activities like this introduced many technological 'tools'; from scissors and protractors to hammers and spirit levels. The children became adept at practical projects - from initiating ideas through the design and modification processes to completion. Reading, writing and maths were other essential 'tools' that were naturally 'picked up' along the way.
I've written elsewhere about how our youngest found motivation to learn to read while playing computer games, and how he now spends many hours each week designing websites, writing game tutorials, emailing friends, and researching topics of interest. He's found that too many hours in front of the screen need to be balanced with physical activity, preferably outside. I've learned to trust my children's instinct and let them learn by listening to their innate needs and instincts. They have a natural sense of cautiousness that makes them pause and reflect before using any tool, and, as a result, they tend to make fewer mistakes than us 'oldies'.
Being mindful about what we do, and why and how, helps to develop a thoughtful nature, which ultimately ensures we use technology sensibly and safely.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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