Who Needs a Dictionary When You Have Google?

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“I don’t even understand why we have dictionaries. All you have to do is type a word into the internet and boom, you know what it means.”
“I know, right? It’s so much easier. Any time I don’t know a word, I just type it into my app and it tells me.”
“So true! I wonder why they even made them.”

This was a conversation that I overheard today as my students were eating their snack. I of course had to jump in on the conversation to find out more about how great google or apps are and how obsolete dictionaries are becoming. I asked the group of students a few questions more about how they search for words and how they look words up, and they responded, “You just type in the word and it tells you the answer right away.”
“How do you know it’s right?” I questioned.
“It’s the internet!” They responded, synchronized, as if planned and rehearsed.

It is interesting to think about the children that are growing up these days and the technologies that surround them. With a click of a button they can easily find answers to questions that would have taken us minutes or even hours to find. Is this a better way? Some would say yes, and I would agree. Why spend all that extra time when it seems our time is always limited? Why spend hours when you can find answers in seconds?

This had me thinking about how we use technology today, and if it is limiting our skills or improving them. In terms of the dictionary, without it do kids know how to organize things alphabetically? Are they able to use guide words to help them? These are skills that I would deem important, but are they? When do we use alphabetical organization today?

I often flip and flop in my mind between fundamental skills that technology inhibits, but the ease and access to things that were never possible prior. In order to gain a benefit in one area do we have to sacrifice something else? Or is there a way to balance?

As educators, I feel that we each have enough knowledge and pedagogical skills to make our own decisions. If a target is in your curriculum, obviously you need to cover it, but I suppose the extent into which you delve is your decision. I think we need to remember that some skills are important to us, because it is the way we learned and in the era we grew up in. But things are changing, and children are adapting. I believe it is our duty to adapt as well.

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