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Can Education Exist Without the Internet?

While falling sleep last night was a difficult process as I was plagued with back-to-school jitters, waking up when the power went out on campus was a breeze.  Usually when we loose power on campus overnight, I am terrified about waking up late and not making it to class on time.  Although that thought did cross my mind, my immediate worry was, “I won’t have an Internet connection available for my science class.  How will my students be able to work on the project?”  I was terrified.  I tossed and turned for about an hour trying to solve the problem of no Internet for class.  I then realized I had two free periods prior to my science class, which would allow me the opportunity to brainstorm an alternative, power-free lesson.  However, I was still stressed despite having a solution to my dilemma.  Fortunately, the power came back on around four in the morning, and after resetting my alarm, I fell right to sleep, stress free.

So, this incident forced me to contemplate my reliance on technology and the Internet.  Can I teach without electricity?  Do I need an interactive board, projector, computer, Internet connection, and all of the other fancy technology gadgets available to be a great teacher?  Can I roll with it if my school has no power?  Of course, I’d love to say, without hesitation, that I am a flexible educator who can teach anything to anyone in any situation.  But, is that really true?  Could I?  If I had time to plan and problem-solve, I’d like to think that anything is possible.  I believe I probably could teach without electricity.  Now, would that method of teaching best meet the needs of my students?  That’s a whole different ball game.  Being flexible as a teacher and giving my students what they need are two different things.  If I had no power for a day or two, I could still execute my lessons and be a successful teacher.  If I had to teach like that all the time, would my students still learn?  Perhaps, our students could use some practice in becoming flexible global citizens.  Maybe crafting a unit or series of lessons that require no electricity would be an interesting experiment.  Could the students do it well?  Could they handle not having their laptops, music players, headphones, stupid phones, and the like?  As a culture, do we rely on technology too much?  What happens when the entire grid goes down like it will eventually?  Then what?  Preparing our students for every type of problem might be something we’re missing in our curriculum.  Maybe we should help them practice not using technology for a whole week so that they are prepared for, in their eyes, the worst possible scenario.

I do believe that we may focus too much attention on technology as we teach the future generation, but we are preparing our students for a world that uses technology all the time.  While at a recent sporting event, I happened to, out of the corner of my eye, notice a man checking his phone while using a urinal.  Is there no privacy?  Must we always be connected?  Perhaps, we as a world put too much of an emphasis on technology.  Maybe we should help our students understand this and figure out ways to solve this problem.  While our students may be great at looking up answers to questions on Google, do they know how to use an encyclopedia or ask another living human for help?  

So, yes, education can, and, frankly to help our students survive in the worst of conditions, should exist, for at least a few times each year, without technology and the Internet.  Let’s be sure our students know how to interact with each other face to face; because, how awesome would it be to actually LOL for real?

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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