The Curse of Connected Schools




When I went to school (which was –admittedly – several decades ago), my parents came to my school to the yearly parent-teacher conferences in elementary school, sometimes to the “open house” day for parents above elementary level, or when summoned by a note sent home that they should meet the teacher.

Additional contact with teachers and schools happened when parents went to applaud their kids during end-of-year programs, or by signing notes of excuses when their children missed school for various reasons.

That was pretty much it.

I doubt that my parents knew all my middle and high school teachers personally; in fact I’m almost certain that my mother has never personally talked to more than one or two of them.

What a difference it is nowadays!

In the present digital age schools, teachers, and kids are connected. The internet and various intra-nets keep everyone current on everything. The terrible downside is that we all are expected to be current on everything and must spend an extraordinary amount of time to do so.

Parents are supposed to know what’s going on with their children. If the kid has any kind of issue or learning disability, the parent is supposed to network with teachers, counselors, and principals, is supposed to follow the child’s progress online, check on grades, read the comments to the grades, and keep up digital discussions stretched over several days or weeks.

No one seems to still have time for face-to-face meetings, or only in grave situations or emergencies.

The same counts for the students: when I was young, we had books and learned what was written in them. Schools were poor and we did not receive stacks of additional photocopies (that one can so easily lose). No, the material that we were supposed to study and on which we were tested was written on paper, complemented by our personal course notes.

Nowadays, though, course notes are posted by the teachers on-line, calendars with test dates and learning objectives are to be consulted on-line as well. In addition to the course material generated by the teachers, the instructors also post a number of links (that work or don’t work) which the kids must follow and that open pages upon pages of additional material that they should read and memorize as well.

Even some of the students’ communications with the teachers are done on-line, and when the child is sick, we don’t rely on friends anymore to keep us posted and for copying notes about what happened in class, but much rather expect more digital notes, an avalanche of digital study material, including the famous web links, to be sent our way so that the sick kid is sure to study, no matter how high the fever.

My child grows up in the digital age and all these things seem normal to him. They don’t feel normal to me, though. What seemed to be a convenience has become a curse.

Originally, I believe, the major selling slogans for computers meant to make us believe that these machines would make our life easier and less complicated and that we would save time using them and the internet.

All I can say to these ideas is: heck…. why don’t you try again!





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