In our age of technology and fast-paced thinking, and today’s changing economy, what is the place for ‘old school competencies’ such as:
Cursive handwriting for handwritten thank you notes
Mental math calculations for confirming cash transactions or playing Monopoly
Building projects by hand for last minute repairs such as sewing loose buttons
Using a stack of borrowed library books and the reference librarian for research
Understanding weights and measurements for cooking, baking and nutrition
Using tools to tighten a screw, loosen a bolt, or plant flowers Coordination from sidewalk hopscotch and jumping rope
Handwritten ‘To-Do’ lists Face-to-face conversations and meetings to work together, share information, and/or resolve differences with recognition of individual emotions, and perceptions

What is the value of ‘old school competencies’ verses:
Reaching out to friends and family using social networking sites and texting
Improved eye and hand coordination from fun with video games
Knowledge of advanced math topics using graphing calculators
Typing at a faster speed than handwriting for note-taking during lectures
Using on-line outlining programs for developing studying skills
Search engines for immediate access to on-line library research
Computer-aided design to build a model car or layout a floor plan
Using cell phone alarms for routine, timely, automated reminders
Computer-generated spreadsheets for coordinating family activities and schedules
Video chats for meetings Wii fit games to calculate body mass and balance and to improve health

How do we find a balance for learning, making decisions on verified facts, multiple technologies and intelligences, and the skills to improve the comfort of families and free time? In other words, what merger of ‘old school competencies’ and today’s technology works for you in your homes, schools, work place and communities?



  1. Namita K says:

    There is something to be said to learning things the old fashioned way. During our road trip in the U.S last summer we used a GPS audio system to help us navigate the roads, and it worked so well that we wondered how we had ever managed to get around without it. But at the same time I wondered if we were raising a future generation of kids who may be growing up without the skills to be able to read a detailed road map to get around without needing an audio feed?
    The beauty of technology is that it makes our lives easier and instant. But we should not be held hostage to it, and be able to manage without it too!

  2. Valeria Fleury says:

    I couldn’t agree with Namita more: I would not survive here in London without my SatNav, and family trips have been much more relaxing without having to rely on my ability (or lack) of reading maps. However,many schools here in the UK, and I am sure all over the world, boast about having the most recent and updated computers, interactive boards, etc. While technology surely makes our lives easier and much more fun, ‘good old skills’ like reading a map, perfecting our handwriting or exercising our minds with mental maths, should not be negleted or be less encouraged and valued in academic settings.
    As with anything in life, being able to provide a good balance between old and new and achieving high standards is what schools should boast about.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think the difference is that the two of you can read a map if necessary, and the process of learning that helped develop your brain- it made you learn how think. The brain needs “exercise” to stay sharp.

  4. Theresa says:

    I think the fact that I find most disturbing is young kids unable to make simple change, doing math in the head seems to have gone out long ago, yet the can whip up a power point presentation in no time. I just hope we don’t lose the basics and am happy to see my daughter’s school (British curriculum in Bangkok) stressing numeracy and literacy for the early years classes.

    Technology in the classrooms has changed so much as well, I had never seen a “smartboard’ until last year and was amazed at all they can do. Then again, I am still a “writer”, try as I might I cannot get organized with computer generated databases, still prefer paper to a screen. Perhaps I dislike the technology because it shows my age!

  5. Judy C. says:

    As I struggle with understanding and using current technology at home and with work, I can now appreciate my parent’s generation shaking their heads with new technology we became used to using as teenagers. “People skills” and providing a human touch when dealing with clients,friends,neighbours and family is still very important to me and something we try to impress on our children (who were surprised when they discovered that I knew how to send a text message).
    I will take a lesson from my 90 year old mother-in-law who embraces both the old and the new – she continues to encourage her children and grandchildren to learn and embrace the values of good manners and personal interaction with family, friends and work colleagues while at the same time be willing to learn how to use the internet and program her TV to record a show. She now sends all of us emails on a daily basis when she takes a break from using Wi tennis, bowling and fitness programs to stay physically active.

  6. Karen says:

    I agree we have to blend the old with the new. After reading your blog I thought how I never use the task feature in my Outlook but prefer to write my to do list by hand. I also like my monthly calendar that I keep in my purse vs. using a Blackberry. I need to see it on paper in a tangible way but maybe because that is the way I learned. Perhaps my children will feel more comfortable reading a newspaper online, always reaching for the calculator instead of doing mental math and googling for info. instead of reading a book. With such technology as Twitter though, I wonder if relationships will start to be “virtual”. One positive caveat, when TV came out, some thought radio would be obsolete, but we have both. And I still write handwritten thank yous vs. an e-mail when appropriate!

  7. Rosemary says:

    I was very interested to read how we are embracing technology and the impact it is having on our lives and learning.
    Of course, without the increase in technology, we’d still be cooking over a fire etc etc. I certainly appreciate all the benefits that computers provide as a means of communication, research, banking, shopping and entertainment.
    The amount of knowledge that is accessible on the internet is fantastic but students will still need guidance and care to discern what is relevant or appropriate for their learning.
    I do wonder if there is a trade-off for many of the advancements. People want instant answers, instant meals, instant results etc. We want life to be easier and sometimes we are not as prepared to put in the hard work, or to be be patient or show courtesy to others in our desire for instant gratification.Are we getting lazier?
    It worries me that students may lose the skill to calculate mentally and rely on a simple machine for answers.To me, this is much more fun and challenging, than simply pressing buttons on a calculator. I used to do a mental arithmetic exercise with my students and the object was to improve their accuracy and speed. They loved it! With regular practice, they became very skilled at mental maths.They were proud of their efforts too.
    I am very concerned that students have lost listening skills as much of their learning today is visual. Sometimes, students would rather look at a machine than a person who is talking to them.
    Communication by email, SMS is fast but not as personal as a conversation.I’ve often found these messages in electronic form do not convey the intended meaning.
    I acknowledge that the technology is there to assist us but we should not lose the existing skills which enhance our learning and way of life.
    It is a balance and we should make more time to consider the implications of the use of technology in children’s learning. Are we better human beings for all this technology? Are we any wiser? We’re certainly more informed.

  8. Kristina says:

    What an interesting topic! We just got our GPS system last week and since we are living in a new country, I must admit it is a huge relief.

    I do not remember learning how to read maps in school (maybe I missed that day), but thankfully my husband`s traditional Swiss education left us in good shape and we were able to tough it out for a few months using regular maps. He even taught me and while I do not consider myself an expert, I must admit I can manage quite well. I guess I just never was `forced` to use a map before.

    I think it is wonderful when technology pleasantly augments our lives, but I think it is so important that we do not become overly dependent. For our children, it is crucial that they receive a solid education in the `basics`. Plus, even as adults I think we need to challenge ourselves to keep ourselves and our brains sharp.

  9. Doreen says:

    I need to be techno literate to participate with my children. I try to remind and teach them the values of “old school”. Do I sound like my parents?

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