UPDATE : 2017.9.15 금 01:43

[Vol. 76] Smart Phones: Friend or Foe?

한국교원대신문l승인2016.11.30l수정2016.11.28 18:15

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Nowadays, it seems virtually impossible to spend even a minute without the super-genius, ultra-convenient gadgets we call “smart” phones. These “all-knowing” devices present you with infinite knowledge and can take you to any place you desire, show you the result of any keyword you happen to enter, and allow you to stay connected with your loved ones 24-7.  Your smart phone is your consultant, your guardian, your navigator, your teacher, and most importantly, your buddy who will never, ever betray you. Your smart phone is always ready to accommodate your needs and desires. 

As a result of such loyalty and promptness your device offers you, you almost feel guilty when your phone runs out of battery. But when it does happen, you will begin to see the world you have forgotten and neglected. You will come to the realization that you had been “captured” by your cellphone. I went through this enlightenment a few weeks ago when my phone ran out of battery on the subway. My phone gave out on me in the middle of the day and I still had a long day ahead of me. Since I had ten or so more stops to go, I had no choice but to look around my surrounding. That is when I realized the gravity of the problem. I thought that I was the victim of candid camera since everyone was interacting with his or her digital buddy. From young to old, people were fully emerged in their own virtual world. Some were watching people cook and eat temptatious food while others were playing games, chatting with multiple people simultaneously, shopping items, and browsing the latest scandals and gossips. What is wrong with this picture? It was almost eerie to me because people looked as if they were linked to their cellphones with an invisible leash. The disturbing fact is this: We have become slaves of our digital buddy.

The consequence of the enslavement can be devastating, especially for teachers. For one thing, the “smart” phone generation is accustomed to the fast-paced “click and find” way of obtaining information. Similar to your taste buds becoming accustomed to the instant gratification of MSG, the “smart” phone generation will find the analog way of getting information (i.e., physically being present at the library to do research and actually have to synthesize information by reading) awfully bland. The most unfortunate result of this phenomenon is that this particular generation wants results without the effort. In other words, they want the information to be presented to them neatly organized and succinctly synthesized by the omniscient device. When you give the consent for the device to do the thinking, organizing, and synthesizing for you, then you have taken away the right of your brain to carry out such tasks. In essence, you’ve basically put your brain out of work and hired a new brain that you carry around externally. 

What does this entail? Teachers will need to teach students from scratch starting from how to think since this skill is a prerequisite to “learning.” This means that you, as teachers, should be above everything and look beyond this “smartphone” wave. That is, teachers should have a bird’s eye view of the current trend rather than actively participate in the growth of the “smart” generation. When you become a teacher, you should be fully prepared to tell them how you’ve managed to overcome the trend and teach them how to acquire knowledge by using their brains rather than asking a digital brain to do the task instead. 

Let your New Year’s resolution be this: I will use my phone effectively to suit my needs rather than be dragged around by it. As future teachers, you need to have a critical view of the current trends so that you can lead your students to think and act wisely. So the next time you find yourself immersed in your gadget, ask yourself whether you are truly spending your time wisely. Fire your digital brain: It’s time to put your own brain back to work. 


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