The Missing Basic Skills

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Today’s students can do many things with their computers, phones and other devices. They chat constantly on-line, use Facebook to connect with friends, update their profiles with new pictures and so on. At school they are taught how to collaborate with other students and teachers. They know how to find the information they need from the Internet. They probably know things that I will never learn. Students are taught to use IT almost in every possible subject you can come up with. That is all great. But what I am really concerned about is the fact that the students’ basic skills are forgotten at some point. The use of Word, Power Point and Excel are some of the skills they should know well. They can write, they can count and they can do maths, that’s true. But what I have noticed is that they can’t, for example, write papers which have proper titling, paragraphing, references or table of contents. Power Point presentations are just click to the next slide kind of shows, no timing or such used at all. Not to mention Excel skills, they are non-existent. There are even more basic skills that the students aren’t familiar with. I’ll give you an example: one of our teachers asked the students to e-mail him the project paper they had finished as an attachment. Most of the students didn’t know how to do it. The students were 9th graders. All of them knew how to upload it to Facebook though. And what is my point here? The point is that you can’t build a house if you don’t lay proper foundations for it. It will certainly collapse someday. We should start by laying the foundations first also when teaching IT or even before we use it in projects. I am sure that teachers have great project ideas for the students where to use IT but sometimes they forget the basics. IT shouldn’t be used because using it is somehow grand and maybe nowadays even almost required. IT shouldn’t be the end in itself. For teachers IT should be only a tool like a pen. To use it you need to know how it works. You can’t run if you don’t know how to stand. So let’s discover the earth first and after that reach for the stars. Let’s teach the basics properly before we start the great projects with students. If students don’t know how to use IT properly for the purpose, it kills the joy of the whole project and takes the concentration to wrong places.

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