A teacher recently advocated for a student who wishes to stop using her school issued Chromebook and return to paper and pencil to do her assignments. I had heard reports earlier in the year from high school math teachers who went totally paperless that there were students who asked that they could get paper handouts and turn in homework on paper. Surveys show up now and then proclaiming that younger people prefer reading print books to reading ebooks.
When we think of resistance to change in schools, it is usually the adults who come to mind. Nudging, encouraging, mandating, cajoling, bribing, (not yet resorted to blackmailing), I've worked for 30 years to get teachers and administrators communicating, record-keeping, and teaching with digital tools in ways that benefit students. While one is unlikely to encounter a paper grade book or 16mm film in schools today, our digital tools are still pretty much doing analog tasks.
So should we in education re-think this whole digital conversion effort?
A couple phrases we use in our district's planning and mission statements are "real-world ready" and "future ready." And I believe those should be more than simply rhetoric. In order for our students to be real-world ready, they need to be confident in their ability to use "real world" tools - computers, spreadsheets, planning tools, productivity software, communication devices and apps. When Jenny and Carlos get their first engineering jobs, I do not believe they will have the choice of a drafting table or CAD/CAM on a computer.
If we allow students to opt out of using digital tools in their K-12 education, we are doing them a disservice.