Technology is not just cutting a swath through which social and methodological change is rapidly advancing, it’s also changing terminology and common definitions.
Case in point; for most under the age of 30, interactive learning involves the use of digital technology and virtual environments with which children learn through prompts and online discussion panels that are conducted at the pace best suited for each student’s learning style. Indeed, many colleges and universities, with secondary schools close behind, are incorporating an increasing number of interactive lessons. This shift in pedagogy is in response to understanding how today’s students learn and best practices for maintaining engagement in a subject.
An argument can be made, however, that the antiquated definition of interactive learning — children playing with and learning from one another — has an intrinsic value that cannot be supplanted by technology.
Some of life’s most constructive lessons have come from a playground. The ability of a young man to thrive among a group of his peers when outside the aegis of his parents and home is vital to his capacity to absorb and deflect the natural interaction among people in society at large. Such interaction is also integral to a young man’s natural instinct to be part of a team. To be respected, one must first be exposed to those who will provide the respect. In turn, such respect, as the result of publicly witnessed accomplishments, is the catalyst for self esteem and the positive self image that provides the necessary motivation to continually push past one’s own self-imposed limitations.
The successful gardener learns as much from his calluses and he does from his books. Social interaction in a school environment provides team-based problem solving, point and counterpoint debate and think-on-your-feet skills. Boys in particular benefit from experiential learning and meaningful connections with, and feedback from, their mentors and peers. The abilities to critically think through a fluid situation and work collaboratively are essential to future success.
Perhaps a correlation can be drawn between today’s seeming lack of tolerance and the relative isolation many of today’s youths experience in their daily life. Countless hours are spent interacting with a screen, whether it be a lesson, video game or text conversation. Social etiquette has been abandoned, personal commitments are null and void, and group dynamics have become forms of intimidation. Our children are losing their ability to adapt and co-exist.
The benefit of an educational environment in which rules of social conduct are understood and enforced is incalculable for both a young man’s future and the future of society. A boy thrives in surroundings that promote healthy competition while emphasizing sportsmanship and camaraderie. He flourishes in a group of his peers who are supportive. And he grows to his full potential when challenged, but not broken, by a group to which he feels the sense of belonging.
The new interactive learning may streamline a boy’s capacity to learn, but the old interactive learning has the power to build a solid man and unleash unlimited possibilities. How robust, then, would an environment be in which both definitions are in play?