Sweden is not going to ban them

The news hit the media a few days ago and, with it, an important debate was quickly generated on social networks. An information published in the French newspaper Le Monde stated that Sweden was abandoning its Digitization Plan to reverse the use of screens in the classroom and return to textbooks; This decision became known after the results of the PIRLS 2021 Report were published, which assesses the reading comprehension of 4th grade students and which, in the Swedish case, reflects a clear setback.

But they haven’t really made this decision. And so Héctor Ruiz Martín, director of the International Science Teaching Foundation, made it known, after inquiring in the press of the Scandinavian country: the intention of Lotta Edholm, Minister of Education of Sweden, is not to abandon the Digitization Plan approved last year, Rather, it has asked different experts to study and analyze it so that, based on the conclusions they draw, the changes they deem appropriate are applied. In addition, it has been known that the Swedish students will repeat the tests: they will not take them in digital format as it already happened in PIRLS 2021 (it was the first time that they were all done in this format), but on paper.

Although Edholm’s stance is critical of screen use, he has acknowledged that “digitization can be fantastically good for students, but you have to use it sensibly.” On the other hand, and since the intention of the Swedish government is that there are more books in the classroom, it will invest 60 million euros this year to purchase teaching material and another 44 million to strengthen the development of language, reading and the writing of his students.

positions against

Regardless of the interpretation that has been made of this news, the message that Sweden intended to banish the use of screens in the classroom has led to an important debate in which various experts have spoken, both in the media generalists as well as on their social media profiles. So, for example, Catherine L’Ecuyer, PhD in Education and Psychology, has been very critical of the use of devices for educational purposes. This is how she has expressed it in an open letter in the newspaper La Razón addressed to the managers of schools where tablets are used. Above all, she calls for caution because “today, there is not a sufficient body of evidence to support this use.” In addition, she is contrary to the argument of those who defend that because students like tablets, the results they obtain when using these devices in the classroom are better. “These better results never come because the motivation that these studies measure is not interest in learning, but a passive fascination with frequent and intermittent stimuli. The still immature mind of the child becomes passive and dependent before the screen whose algorithms take the reins ”, she has justified.

Screens In Classrooms Sweden

Screens In Classrooms Sweden

For her part, the lawyer and journalist Estela Martín recalled, through her LinkedIn profile, that everything depends on the use made of technology. “Reading comprehension is fundamental and is really strengthened and developed by reading and writing. Screens cannot replace literacy because what ends up causing is a generation with an increasingly poor reading comprehension ”, she has sentenced. In his opinion, the issue does not revolve around the idea of ​​completely banishing screens or the fact of wanting to make learning more ‘comfortable’ for students, “when the reality is that there is no such real learning and a regression in reading and writing skills.

LinkedIn has also been the space through which María Soledad Santana, a doctor in Law, has shown herself in favor of the decision made in Sweden. “There is a deterioration in the teaching of students as a result of so many machines that even place the accents, underline the misspellings and the computer corrects them. The computer is a good instrument, but students can only learn by making mistakes, correcting and reading on paper” she commented.

Do not demonize the screens

The psychologist Carmen Esteban has appealed to common sense through her Instagram account. “It is not about demonizing screens because, especially at older ages, they can have a motivational component that makes students more interested. They are a complementary method to watch a film on a topic that we are teaching in class, an educational documentary, songs, learn to search for official information on Internet pages, know how to make presentations on a computer or use other applications… ”she recalled.

Screens In Classrooms Sweden

Screens In Classrooms Sweden

Meanwhile, Susana Martín, Innovation and Digital Transformation Manager at Macmillan Education Iberia, has underlined the need to generate a debate around this issue in which various aspects coexist. This is how she has stated it through her LinkedIn profile: “Technology and paper can (and should) coexist, to take advantage of the best of both worlds. Let’s not reduce the debate to digital yes or no, or textbook yes or no”. In addition, she laments the idea of ​​scuttling plans for digitization and reducing educational technology to the use of screens. “Perhaps because we think that in the classroom they are going to be used the same as at home? We give a 3 or 4-year-old child a tablet or mobile phone as an electronic pacifier and let him browse YouTube alone, from video to video, without control. But then the lack of attention that our children have is to blame for the fact that the textbook has been replaced by a digital one at school… ”, she commented.

simplistic speech

But to what extent can screens be blamed for the decline in student reading ability? This is the reflection raised by Héctor Gardó, PhD in Educational Sciences and director of Digital Equity at the Bofill Foundation, in this article published in the digital newspaper Nius. “We should ask ourselves what we are doing to promote reading among children and youth, especially in vulnerable environments, where the family does not perform this support function, where if you don’t read at school you won’t read anywhere. It is very easy to blame the screens. It is a very simplistic speech, but the fact of having less will not solve the issue of reading ”he declared. Likewise, the expert appeals to self-criticism and focuses attention on school libraries. As he has pointed out: “It is ridiculous to blame screens for low reading levels when, for example, in Catalonia only 58% of public centers have a school library, while in 2015 it was 79%”.

 
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