Charlotte schools differ on when to introduce technology to children

Charlotte schools differ on when to introduce technology to children

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Technology is all around us and these days children are getting their hands on electronics at a younger age.

If you’re a parent you might be facing the dilemma of when and how to allow it at home, but it’s also a topic of debate when they leave the house to go to school.

If you step inside a kindergarten classroom at Dorothy J. Vaughan Academy of Technology, you’ll quickly see it’s not your average kindergarten classroom. At this CMS magnet school, 5 and 6 year olds are learning how to code.

“We’re a one-to-one technology school so every student even in kindergarten receives their own chrome book that they’re responsible for,” teacher Alison Gover said.

They introduce technology day one.

“It’s unchartered territory in that they’re learning to read at the same time that they are learning how to code,” Gover said.

The idea is that it’s never too early to prepare for the future.

“If they know those foundational skills, they’re going to have an edge in the field and in college,” teacher Lisa Cook said.

But across the city, preschool director Jenny Taylor disagrees.

“Children are going to be exposed to technology you just don’t have to do it when they’re little,” Taylor said.

You won’t see screens at The Preschool at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Taylor has worked for more than a decade.

“I’ve seen more and more kids who don’t know how to play and they don’t know how to play with eachother, so their communication skills are stunted,” Taylor said.

She blames technology for the anxiety and impatience she sees in young children, and even physical disabilities.

“In particular boys who really have no core because they’ve been sitting,” she said.

They focus is on getting the children to use their imaginations by moving and playing together.

But it doesn't always come easily.

“I have some kids who literally break down crying because they don’t want to go outside because it’s not containable, they don’t know what’s coming next,” she said.

Taylor won't bend her philosophy because parents who disagree can find another school.

Dorothy J. Vaughan parents entered their children into a lottery so that they will learn computer science.

But even so the teachers believe in balance.

“It matters what the content is," Gover said. "For example 30 minutes of coding is different than playing on a violent video game for 30 minutes.”

Both schools are preparing students for the future, but with unique paths to get there.

“It’s up to us to give them the right start in how to use technology,” Gover said.

Taylor believes that could come at a cost.

“I’m just afraid that if we keep going the way we are, especially with these young kids, we’re going to get a whole bunch of little robots who don’t know how to be people,” she said.

Both school leaders say their students go on to be successful, whether that means they’re at another technology-based magnet school, or being introduced to technology in the classroom for the first time.

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