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At-Risk, Education, Leadership, Teaching, Technology

Will technology save the “Lost Boys” of education?

Teenagers playing soccer in the rain

flickr photo by marlon.net

Lost Boys. The term conjures a variety of images – a small band of child accomplices to Peter Pan, vampiric teenagers from an 80’s cult classic, and, most recently, the tragic (yet inspiring) story of the young men who fell victim to the violence in Sudan. In all instances, the term describes wayward children–while not physically lost, they are children out-of-place, lurking in the shadows…forgotten.

It is unfortunate, but our educational system has created our own version of the Lost Boys–in spite of the name, this group is not gender exclusive.   Some of these kids are deemed troublemakers.  Some are identified as apathetic.   Many are simply unnoticed.   All  feel hopeless–struggling to fit in, academically unsuccessful, lost in the system.

Observe in the classroom long enough, and you will see them.  Creating disruptions, daydreaming, and totally disengaged.   In spite of the best efforts of their teachers, these kids are so far behind and possess so many academic gaps that it is easier for them to withdraw than expend the effort it takes to catch up (if that is even possible). Unfortunately, our current educational system does not afford these kids the individual time and attention to adequately close the gaps.

That could soon change.

Enter technology…tools that afford educators the opportunity to individualize instruction to an unprecedented degree. Truly a chance to meet students where they are academically, affording them the ability to close gaps in content knowledge, and therefore academic achievement.   That’s not to say that educational technology is a panacea for addressing the needs of at-risk students, but implemented effectively and efficiently it may help us re-engage a segment of our student population that is currently teetering on edge of educational oblivion.  Those walking the narrow margin between academic success and failure.

Consider, for a moment, what technology has done for the field of medicine–improving the ability of doctors to diagnose issues, define a treatment plan, and individualize patient care.   While issues of cost and accessibility could be argued, it would be ludicrous to deny the positive impact that advances in technology have had on healthcare throughout the world.   Now ask yourself, could technology do the same for education?  I would argue that the same potential exists for technology to individualize education, in fact there are countless examples of this happening.   Now, we need to make technology use in education the norm–embedded in the instructional process and consistently utilized.  It will have a positive impact on all students, but  for the “lost boys” of education, technology may cast light into the shadows–offering new hope and a new beginning.

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About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Will technology save the “Lost Boys” of education?

  1. As a teacher for 23 years, I know that technology is helpful for some disengaged kids, and it’s not the answer for most of them. The answer involves having family, mentors, friends, and a community outside of the school that cares about them and expects them to strive to be successful, civil human beings.

    Posted by theteachingwhore | January 16, 2011, 12:30 am
    • Agree. Meaningful relationships and connections will ALWAYS be central to the success of students who are “at-risk.” As educators, we know that we do not necessarily have control over a students life outside of school, so I believe we have to look at every possible way to individualize a student’s education–in a sense, recognizing their value as a person. Technology has the potential to be a TOOL that allows teachers the opportunity to have more time to interact, on a personal level, with their students–especially those who are struggling. Thanks for the comment!

      Posted by azjd | January 16, 2011, 2:16 pm
  2. Great post. I thought of the TED talk about boys and video games that I caught a while back. I agree that technology is a great tool to find these “lost boys” but is still just a tool. It must be yielded with a purpose and with the goal of student engagement and learning.

    Posted by Josh | January 17, 2011, 3:17 pm

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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