15 February 2020

Probing the polls: Religious exemptions and tech in your kids' classrooms

| Genevieve Jacobs
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screen time

Should schools aim to wean students from their screens? Photo: File.

Religious freedom has been a question on many lips recently but few would have attached it to whether or not you should wear a bike helmet.

Matters took an interesting turn when Minister Shane Rattenbury granted an exemption to a member of the Sikh community who was unable to accommodate a mandatory helmet over his turban.

So in a nation where debate has raged over people’s right to speak their mind regarding religious values, despite the risk of causing offence to others, where do RiotACT readers stand on the freedom not to wear a bike helmet because of your beliefs?

Our question for last week’s poll was In a country that values freedom of religion, should religious exemptions apply to everyday laws?

A sizeable 842 votes were cast in total. Your options were to vote Yes, so long as these are minor matters that don’t affect anyone else. That option received 22 per cent of the total, or 188 Votes.

Or you could choose to vote No, laws are made for everyone. That’s what being a citizen is about. That option was the clear winner with 78 per cent of the total, or 654 votes.

This week as school goes back, we’re discussing whether technology has gone too far in the classroom at the risk of other life and learning skills.

Ian Bushnell thinks so. In his regular editorial, he argues that: “computers and the internet have transformed the way we communicate and obtain information but they should not be an end in themselves. There is no question about their role in learning but there remain plenty of questions about the appropriate age for children to be exposed to technology.

“So the Education Directorate is right to stress professional development, but can we also have a little more discernment when to comes to the introduction of technology in the kindergarten and classroom and wind back the electronic stimulation so the young child can appreciate the beauty of the natural world around them?”

Guy Manton said, “I remember this coming up at a conference last year, and one of the ideas was we over-focus on mediums, and under focus on content. If kids ( and adults) are using screen time to learn, create and problem solve then there shouldn’t be an issue. The problem is there’s a lot of ‘junk food’ style content and distractions like social media and games. Learning to differentiate these could be the bigger issue. In saying that a lot more research is needed.”

But Kriso Hadskini disagreed, saying: “Teacher here. Latest research supports less screen time for deep thinking. It was only ever that government can only understand hardware … things … and really struggles with the invisible aspects of teaching and learning. So if the answer to everything is smartboards and laptops it ticks the boxes. Real learning will always come down to relationships between students and teachers and parents. Beware the shiny toys!”

What do you think?

Has the absorption with technology gone too far in the classroom?

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