Smith Prep is an intentionally low-tech school. This is not because we are opposed to technology or because we think technology is unimportant–quite the contrary. There are few more powerful realities in our students’ lives or ours.
Because we understand the power of technology, we think carefully about the role technology plays in our curriculum. We are also mindful of the role technology plays in the moral and spiritual formation of our students. In both cases, the we find that the habits encouraged by digital media, regardless of the quality of content, tend to undermine the intellectual and spiritual virtues we hope to cultivate in our students.
For example, while there is still a measure of uncertainty about how digital reading differs from print reading, studies have suggested that comprehension and retention suffers when students engage with digital texts rather than print texts. Curiously, many leaders in the tech industry have chosen to enroll their children in a school that allows no screens at all.
More importantly, the habits of attention fostered by digital media can erode the capacity for the kind of deep and sustained attentiveness that essential to the life of the mind and the soul that we are pursuing at Smith Prep.
Our goal, then, is to resist the imperative to unthinkingly implement novel classroom technologies that promise to revolutionize the way students learn. Instead, our approach to technology involves two key components. First, to teach students how to think critically about technology and its place in their lives. Second, to provide a community whose structures and rhythms sustain and encourage the virtues and qualities that are undermined by our technological milieu, such as attentiveness, patience, contemplation, and gratitude.