Classroom Technology, Stifling Debate, Shame List, and the Return of Mel Gibson

Signs and Wonders

Technology in the Classroom. Dr. Nicholas Kardaras,writing in TIME Magazine, has gone public with an inconvenient truth about a modern trend in education: that technology is not helping kids, and may be hurting them. He says the trend toward technology in the classroom is inspired not by educational outcomes, but by the marketing departments of tech companies. And he adds that educational technology is a $60-billion-a-year industry, and that money is behind the edtech boom. “In almost every classroom in America today, you will find some type of screen—smartboards, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones. From inner-city schools to those in rural and remote towns, we have accepted tech in the classroom as a necessary and beneficial evolution in education,” Kardaras writes. But he concludes: “This is a lie. Tech in the classroom not only leads to worse educational outcomes for kids, it can also clinically hurt them. I’ve worked with over a thousand teens in the past 15 years and have observed that students who have been raised on a high-tech diet not only appear to struggle more with attention and focus, but also seem to suffer from an adolescent malaise that appears to be a direct byproduct of their digital immersion. Indeed, over two hundred peer-reviewed studies point to screen time correlating to increased ADHD, screen addiction, increased aggression, depression, anxiety and even psychosis.” I commend this important article to you.

Closing of the American Mind. College is supposed to be a place of honest inquiry. Don’t tell that to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS). The school is offering a class on climate change, but dissenters need not apply. An e-mail sent out by the class’s unidentified professor read, in part, “The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human-induced climate change is valid and occurring. We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course. This includes discussion among students in the discussion forums. Opening up a debate that 98 percent of climate scientists unequivocally agree to be a non-debate would detract from the central concerns of environment and health addressed in this course.” It perhaps is telling that the class is not taught as science, but as a humanities elective. UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton defended the class and the e-mail, saying the professor’s position is “no different than a math professor [saying], ‘This class is about algebra; we’re not going to talk about geometry.'”

Safe Colleges. Colleges that teach and promote biblical views of sexuality are the targets of a new “hit list” produced by the group Campus Pride. Of course, Campus Pride doesn’t call it a “hit list”; they call it a “Shame List.” I can understand a pro-gay group using that language, but when the mainstream media reported on the list, they used the Campus Pride press release uncritically. The Charlotte Observer, for example, ran this headline: “8 Carolinas colleges included on ‘Shame List’ for LGBT discrimination.” The story quoted extensively a spokesman for Campus Pride, but not a single dissenting voice. The Austin Statesman even parroted Campus Pride’s call for LGBTQ students who attend these colleges to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education. Campus Pride apparently got its list from the Department of Education’s list of colleges that applied for exemptions from Title IX regulations. For a more balanced account of the issues involved, check out WORLD Magazine’s coverage from earlier this year.

Mel Makes a Comeback. Actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson has had an amazing career, but he has also had some very public meltdowns. After several years away from the limelight, Gibson showed up at an evangelistic crusade last week. He was a “surprise guest” at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusadeto talk about what some are calling a sequel to “The Passion of the Christ.” Gibson would not conclusively confirm the rumors, but he did say that “It’s not the Passion 2. It’s called The Resurrection.” He is apparently partnering with director and writer Randall Wallace on the project. I interviewed Wallace last year and he confirmed to me that he was working with Gibson on a project, but he wouldn’t say much about it and I assumed that project was the previously announced “Hacksaw Ridge,” due in theatres in November, which Gibson directs and on which Wallace has a co-writing credit. “Hacksaw Ridge” is getting solid early buzz. It tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist who refused to bear arms in battle, but was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for singlehandedly saving the lives of 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa.

Image courtesy of Jupiterimages/Creatas Images at Thinkstock by Getty Images.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.