Sometime in my early twenties, an Australian friend and I were sitting on a bus together as we toured through Europe. As we were chatting about all of the seemingly funny differences between the United States and Australia, I had asked him why it was that out of fifty people on the tour bus, thirty-five of them were Australian and there were only four Americans among us all. He said, “I don’t know, what do you think?” My reply went something like this:
I went on to explain to him that in America, it is standard that directly after high school, the desired route is to get into a college. From there, college would directly lead one into the job world where they can start to make money and be an active and responsible citizen (at least that is the idea) and pay back their student loans. I explained that I felt that American society frowned upon people who just threw their hands up, and say to hell with it all, I’m going on holiday for three months. “We almost view it as irresponsible to take that much time off and gallivant the world, it is like we are escaping something.” It was the next sentence that would begin to change my worldview forever. My new Australian friend-for-life was exasperated as he shot back, “Are you kidding me? It is irresponsible if you don’t!”
This has become my philosophy for a lot of things in my current life, but it is also my philosophy for the necessity for students to have 1:1 capabilities. I am often confronted with skeptics from either the public or even other hesitant teachers who may not see the value for a 1:1 program. My simple response is, “It is irresponsible if we don’t.” Students are not going to live their lives as the last generation. Everything can be accomplished online. I remember when my mom had gotten extremely frustrated one day when she realized that I did not balance a checkbook anymore because my bank had kept up to the minute records of all of my activity. This is the reality of our current world, and with the cost of computing devices decreasing it is just common sense. However, I do believe that there is a real danger for our newly “plugged-in” generation. The ability to use higher order thinking and to remain creative can easily decay with the easy use of apps that are literally made for everything. It is my personal goal as a 1:1 teacher to ensure that critical thinking and creativity survive. A machine can never replace a teacher.