Youth parliament: “Chalk and talk method outdated”

POSTED: 08/13/13 2:00 PM

Motion passed on ICT in classrooms

St. Maarten – From the abacus to calculator, blackboard to whiteboards, investment costs and a further divide between student and teacher  were all issues brought up when young people discussed an issue that has been gripping their attention for years; technology.

With the lone male among a group of thirteen females, St. Maarten Youth Parliament showed that the future is bright for women in politics. The distinguished young people who are all a part of the St. Maarten Youth Council converged at the house of parliament for the first public debate of the Youth Members of Parliament (YMP).

The debate correlated with the annual observance of International Youth Day yesterday and the start of the new school year. At its conclusion, a motion was unanimously passed to have Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the classroom.

Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt, members of parliament and  the council of ministers were all present in tribune for the parliamentary proceedings as the 14 young people debated the topic “A curriculum that prepares us for life; incorporating technological advancements in education.”

“The chalk and talk method of yesterday does not work in classes today,” YMP Richardson stated at the start of her presentation. She based on claims on the development of the digital age which makes traditional classroom settings boring.

Each speaker was allotted to five minutes in the first round and 3 minutes in the second. The formal proceedings were presided over by president of the St. Maarten Youth Parliament Rochana Richardson.

YMP Gumbs said that heavy books will break students’ backs and destroy school bags. She therefore suggested that electronic tablets be introduced in secondary schools.

“We have to keep ourselves updated with everything that is going on in our generation and education system. We should take advantage of the natural affinity to improve the learning and outcomes. The incorporation of technology in our schools can begin with tablets or e-readers for secondary school students that contain notes, text books and reference materials,” she stated. Gumbs added that this would not only eliminate the heavy loads that students drudge to school every day but also make them more motivated. The Youth Parliamentarian also wants to see Caribbean youths create new technologies.

A case was also made for Ipads to replace textbooks to save the environment.

The world is advancing in technology whether St. Maarten is prepared or not, YMP Groeneveldt confidently asserted.

“I strongly believe that St. Maarten needs to be there right alongside the world. Children have access to a range of ICTs in their everyday lives and so it makes sense to exploit technological awareness in the classroom,” she added.

The young parliamentarian stated that her school, the Sister Regina, has already started preparing her for technological innovations. The school boasts of classrooms equipped with interactive white boards which allow children to be presented with information in ways that are not available while using a traditional blackboard.

“There are the obvious drawbacks of costs to schools; both in the installation of the boards and any repairs or replacements that will be required. Teachers will also need to be trained. However these costs should be viewed as investments,” Groeneveldt pointed out.

YMP Pierre said that it stands to reason that technology cannot be ignored because it has captured the attention and imagination of youth.

“If we are obsessed with it (technology) why not incorporate it in education so that we can have an educational use of the things that we are already exposed to?” she asked.

Exposure to technology from an early age also prepares the future work force adequately and is necessary for the propelling of this new nation, Pierre added.

YMP Whyte said that the incorporation of technology into the curriculum will certainly create a more exciting and challenging environment in schools.

“When students are using technology as a tool or support for communicating with others they are playing an active role rather than a passive one of just receiving information from a teacher or textbook. Students make active decisions about how to obtain, manipulate or display information.”

When it came time for young people to debate the disadvantages of technology in the curriculum, YMP Samuel opined that there are many students who seem unable to do without ICTs.

“This is because technology recreates the essence of humanity and encourages us to think that everything is on standby just waiting for our consumption. These devices breed laziness, shorter attention spans and impatience.”

Samuel explained that while some digital devices can hold millions of books, nothing can replace the library culture that makes learning more meaningful when effort is put into it.

“Studies have shown that by just being around books energizes one’s learning abilities and the absence weakens the intellectual ability and development.”

YMP Dollison said that “If learning with technology includes typing into a computer there is a disconnection between assessments that determine government funding and the use of technology in the classrooms.”

“Writing is affected because of evolving text language that minimizes regular words and creates abbreviations. Spelling is necessary and I fear that written word will soon be extinct. Communication is also suffering because of technology. Students that are hindered by their ability to write and communicate will suffer face to face with a lot of problems such as critical thinking and the ability to do homework. Ability to focus and fight through academic challenges suffers more sharply through students whose parents allow them to be on technology 24/7,” YMP Shillingford posited.

In the second round, YMP Peterson gave a spirited attempt to steer listeners’ attention away from advantages of technology.  Other speakers included YMP Baptiste   YMP Hackings and YMP Lake.

YMPs Gumbs and Dollison brought a motion for the incorporation of technology into the curriculum. The motion was accepted unanimously.

The deliberations were enlightening, Education Minister Patricia Lourens said. She added that the government has secured financing for the purchase of laptops and tablets into the education system on a much wider basis.

“As you also remarked policy is needed to monitor how technology should be used and by whom it should be used. The government is currently formulating that policy,” the minister said. She promised to provide feedback to the youth parliament soon.

Every generation of a country turns opportunity into reality,” Parliamentary president Drs. Gracita Arrindell said in her opening remarks. She expressed the hope that the debate would be the start of the continuation of a structural relationship with the St. Maarten Youth Parliament.



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