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.