Connecting yet disconnected

Sunday August 12, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/8/12/education/11813462&sec=education

LET’S HEAR IT

I UNDERSTAND the people who question the wisdom and propriety of the Education Minstry’s proposal to allow students to bring handphones and other IT gadgets to school from January next year.

I am not totally against it as these gadgets, with their functions and benefits, are necessary in our modern, fast-paced world. Using them properly and responsibly makes us more productive, more connected and keeps us up-to-date with the latest happenings.

Having said that, I do have my concerns.

I am afraid that our society might lose its ability to connect with the person within and the people without.

Virtual interaction can never ever match actual discourse and human social intercourse.

Man by nature is a social animal. We grow together, not in isolation but through social interaction and within a given community.

The use of technological gadgets should only be a means to further explore, express, show and complete our humanity; but not, never, as an end in itself.

Abusing these technologies would lead us eventually to the abyss.

As stated by Lutz FJ in the letter A culture of disconnectivity (The Star, July 18): “It is not common to see people sitting at the same table fiddling with these gadgets or engrossed in conversation with someone not in front of them. This culture of ‘disconnectivity’ is fast producing a society incapable of holding a decent face-to-face conversation or discussion.”

Students go to school to study and learn. I believe that it would be utterly improper and inappropriate for any student to surf the Internet, send SMS to their friends or visit various social networking sites while class is in session.

The danger in relying on social networking sites to satisfy our basic social needs is getting hooked on it and not having the discipline to switch off. Virtual interaction can never ever be equated with real bonding and actual human intercourse.

The school is sacred ground for learning and the pursuit of knowledge. Parents must teach their children to be responsible and reasonable human beings.

As an academic and teacher, my policy is: No cellphone is allowedduring class. But as a radical and liberal teacher, I give them the option of putting the phone in silent mode, in case of family emergency.

The use of technological know-how must be tempered with discipline and respect.

I believe that the Education Ministry, in considering the matter and studying the impact and implications of allowing handphones in school, would consult parents, students and all stakeholders concerned.

JOSE MARIO DOLOR DE VEGA