Providing Alternatives to Digital Dependency

Bona Verba from the Headmaster 
Our faculty and staff are currently engaged in a discussion about Nicholas Kardaras’s book, Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids—and How to Break the Trance. Kardaras, a clinical neuropsychologist, convincingly argues that parents and educators must take responsibility to limit children’s screen time and help them instead cultivate healthy human relationships. Though the majority of his book presents research showing that reliance on screens can neurologically damage the developing brain of a child, he concludes his book with a chapter entitled “The Solution.” 
Quoting from the children-and-tech manifesto Fool’s Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood, he presents seven specific recommendations, including: “A refocusing in education, at home and school, on the essentials of a healthy childhood: strong bonds with caring adults; time for spontaneous, creative play; a curriculum rich in music and the other arts; reading books aloud; storytelling and poetry” and “an immediate moratorium of further introduction of computers in early childhood and elementary education.” 
We couldn’t help but recognize that “the solution” posited by Fool’s Gold and echoed by Glow Kids is an encapsulation of the kind of education on offer here at Cincinnati Classical Academy. We know it may be controversial, but we are proud to be a low-tech school that reflects these prescient recommendations. 
Fool’s Gold was published back in 2000 by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the well-being of children. Fool’s Gold argues that young children should have limited exposure to digital technology, and that when they do use technology, it should be in a thoughtful and purposeful way. 
At CLASSICAL, we believe that children benefit from a holistic classical approach to education that includes teacher-led (not laptop-dependent) classrooms, book-reading, note-taking, discussing, debating, reciting poetry, delivering speeches, and writing by hand in response journals. We understand well that screen time and reliance on digital devices have measurable negative impacts on children’s development, including on their physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Recent scientific studies demonstrate as much. (For those interested in a revealing example of that research, I suggest looking into “Social Media and Mental Health,” a recent study on teen Facebook users conducted by Dr. Alexy Makarin from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.) 
In accordance with the principles of Fool’s Gold, we at CLASSICAL focus on providing engaging and stimulating learning experiences that do not rely on screens or digital devices. Instead, we emphasize the use of books, manipulatives, and other tactile materials to help students develop a deeper understanding of the concepts they are learning. 
Our low-tech approach also means that we prioritize face-to-face interactions between students and teachers, and we encourage students to work together on projects and assignments when appropriate. We believe that these kinds of social interactions are essential for children’s development and well-being and that they cannot be replaced by digital technologies and artificial intelligence. 
In addition to our commitment to low-tech learning, we also value outdoor play and physical activity. We understand well that movement and fresh air are essential for children’s health and well-being. Our students spend time each day engaged in physical activity, whether that’s playing football or skipping rope on the playground, exploring nature in the Foxy Woods, or participating in daily physical education classes. 
Make no mistake, CLASSICAL is proud to be a low-tech school that prioritizes children’s well-being and development in alignment with current research and best practices. We are fully committed to providing a content-rich liberal arts education that prepares our students for success as virtuous citizens and life-long learners rather than as technicians and technologists. Thank you for your continued support of our school and our mission! 
Curate, ut valeatis!
Michael Rose, Headmaster
PS. If you are interested in learning more about the effects of emerging digital technologies, including the internet and social media, on children and young adults, I offer three further recommendations: Digital Madness (2022) by Nicholas Kardaras, Generations by Jeanne Twenge (2023), and The Shallows (2010) by Nicholas Carr. And, if you are interested in reading a true classic on the subject, I recommend Amusing Ourselves To Death (1985) by Neil Postman.

Michael Rose - Headmaster

Mr. Michael Rose

Meet the Headmaster

Mr. Rose has taught various courses at Brown University, Cincinnati Moeller, and The Summit Country Day School. As a part of his degree work in education, Mr. Rose’s research interests included the Great Books curriculum, the Paideia teaching method, and the “effects of emerging digital technology on student reading, writing, and researching.” Read More