Posted October 4, 2014on:
I almost forgot about something I drafted a while back.
I sighed when I read two ST Forum letters about technology and schooling. Then I wrote some snarky responses by way of questions.
If you do not have a sense of humour, dislike being questioned, or are not a fan of John Cleese, read no further.
The letters are in italics. This was the first letter (link might expire or be behind a paywall).
With our long working hours and the tremendous amount of time that our children are spending on co-curricular activities and tuition classes, it is no wonder that family bonding time is being affected (“Poll respondents lament lack of family time”; Sept 3).
The fault always seems to lie somewhere else, huh?
Advances in technology have not helped matters.
The blaming of technology didn’t take long, did it?
Nowadays, even young toddlers are playing games or watching movies on iPads, when they should be enjoying time with their parents.
Who put those devices in the hands of the kids without setting expectations in the first place?
As soon as we wake up in the morning, many of us start checking our Facebook or Twitter feeds instead of having breakfast with our families.
How many of us have breakfast? How many of us have breakfast with our families?
For that matter, what is the traditional notion of a family and where they reside? Don’t we have proportionately more singles now (who may need to find/stalk someone on Facebook)? Don’t some parents want to connect with their kids overseas by going online at breakfast/dinner?
Even when we do have a meal together, family members may be doing their own thing on their mobile devices.
Recently, in a Chinese restaurant, I saw a father dining with his two daughters, and all three of them were busy on their cellphones.
Before all these gadgets came along, families would sit around and talk or play board games. I doubt this scenario is played out in many homes these days.
Don’t some families sit around in stony silence? Don’t some fight all the time?
Who is to say that they don’t interact with each other in other contexts? Who is to say that what they do at the dinner table is not worthwhile?
The central argument seems to be that mobile technologies desocialize us and that is evil or wrong. But it is worth reminding ourselves that we can find other ways to ignore each other. Take the humble newspaper.
In another letter: (link might expire or be behind a paywall).
Ten years of primary and secondary school should suffice to produce all-round students who are exposed to a holistic, multi-disciplinary education.
Are we living on the same planet?
Both the writers claim to know something. But they remind me of armchair philosophers or living room pundits who scream at the TV. Apparently they know something that the experts, players, or coaches on TV do not.
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
They are entitled to air their views, of course. But they need to be better informed. I will leave John Cleese to offer them some advice.
Unfortunately, they might not get it.