Student Success in a Digital World
How do we prepare our children for success in life in a device driven world? It's easier than one may think, but will require educators to teach skills that once came naturally for students. The art of communication is being lost to emojis and texting. For this reason, parents and educators will need to be more deliberate in training students to become effective communicators.
Socrates knew what he was doing as an educator. Though he lived a long time ago, his methods could help fill the gap necessary to teach students how to have meaningful dialogue.
In her book Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle points out "Without conversation, studies show that we are less empathic, less connected, less creative, and fulfilled. We are diminished, in retreat." She also points out, "It is not enough to ask your children to put away their phones. You have to model this behavior and put away your phone. If children don't learn to listen, to stand up for themselves and negotiate with others in classrooms or at a family dinner, when will they learn the give-and-take that is necessary for good relationships or, for that matter, for the debate of citizens in a democracy? Reclaiming conversations begins with the acknowledgement that speaking and listening with attention are skills. They can be taught. They take practice and that practice can start now. In your home, in a classroom, at your job."
How does one teach this? That is the question?
- One place to start is with familiarizing oneself with how to confidently approach a teacher or employer with concerns or questions. It requires the right words and phrasing. Once learned, the use of these words and phrases can literally change the way teachers teach. When students understand how powerful they can be in bringing about positive change in a classroom, they will eagerly learn how to say what needs to be said to get what they need from their teachers and later on, their employers.
Homework Solutions For the Weary Students and Their Parents provides this language. I spent years collecting challenging scenarios that students face during the course of a school year. Using my classroom and home as a lab, and working collaboratively with students, we brainstormed the words one could use to solve them.
Due to the shift in the way students communicate, Homework Solutions For the Weary Students and Their Parents is needed more today than it was when it was first written in 1994. Reading it together provides a great springboard for discussion in classrooms and around the kitchen table.
- Parents can also model good communication at the dinner table. Putting the phones in another room and engaging in meaningful listening and sharing offers more to children's success than one might think, but requires specific training.
Skills that are needed to achieve this are:
- Making eye-contact with the person they are speaking to
- Listening by silently repeating what the other person is saying rather than thinking about what they want to say
- Restating what they heard to validate what was said
- Respectfully stating their own opinion instead of telling the other person they are wrong.
Sherry Turkle emphasizes the reason for removing the phones from the room where meaningful dialogue occur. “Studies show that children who hear less adult talk, talk less. If we turn toward our phones and away from our children, we will start them off with a deficit of which they will be unaware. It won’t be only about how much they talk. It will be about how much they understand the people they’re talking with.”