From "the ol' curmudgeon":
I am writing with all due respect to the viewpoints of others, but I beg to
differ with the characterization that the excerpt below is powerfully
stated. Lately, I have been speaking out on this list regarding the function
of technology in our classrooms. I probably sound like a broken record and a
little kooky, but I hope no one thinks that I don't value the opinions of
others. I just happen to disagree with the amount of emphasis we place on
the importance of technology in our classrooms. It is important to me (Well,
ok, maybe an obsession.) that we don't lose sight of what it is that our
students really need to be able to do to be successful - which is to be able
to think clearly and originally and with facility in all subject areas. No
doubt computers can help somewhat with this process, but (as you have heard
me say before) I don't think we fully understand the costs (financially,
developmentally, and pedagogically) that are associated with this technology.
This is my response to the comments below:
>Let's have a little competition at school and get ready for the future.
>I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready?
>I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5
I have never seen "old" information as a problem. We are still wrestling
with the problems posed centuries ago by great philosophers, prophets,
mystics, and scientists. Certainly it would be unhelpful in today's world if
we thought the earth was flat, but even the most up-to-date information is
worthless if we can't determine its accuracy or put it in a larger context
or judge its author's intent. I will argue that most students need more help
with the "wrestling" part of thinking than with the "up-to-date" part of data.
>I will immediately know when I misspell a word; you have to wait until
Not always. And what good is it to spell correctly but think illogically or
poorly about a problem or be unable to organize your thoughts. Do I need to
spend $1000 on a machine to help me spell when I can't put forward
>I will learn how to care for technology by using it; you will read
>I will see math problems in 3d; you will do the odd problems.
I will agree that some math and science simulations are helpful learning
tools, but they must be used in a developmentally appropriate manner and
without forgetting about the real world that surrounds us. Kids already
spend far too much time in front of machines (TV and computer) and far too
little time in the woods or talking to someone. (A recent statistic tells us
that parents spend more time in their cars than talking to their children.)
>I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world; you will
>share yours with the class.
>I will have 24/7 access; you have the entire class period.
Access to what? As others in this list have discussed, data is not
information and information is not wisdom. Brain work comes between those
pieces. It's the brain work that should concern us...even if it happens with
>I will access the most dynamic information; yours will be printed and
Wow! Printed information is not dynamic. Let's see: that means the my copies
of works by Aristotle, DesCartes, Arnheim, Audubon, Boaz, etc. are not worth
reading, I guess.
>I will communicate with leaders and experts using email; you will wait
>for Friday's speaker.
Come on! Our leaders and experts don't have time to communicate with
thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of students. And please tell me
what is wrong with waiting until Friday. Maybe by then, I can have done some
research, come up with some thoughtful ideas and questions, and be fully
ready to understand on a deeper level than if I just fire off an email.
Nothing, nothing, nothing, can beat the richness of direct conversation and
thoughtful dialalog while face to face. Just consider how this message is
being interpreted by all of you without anyone seeing my body language or
hearing the tone of my voice.
>I will select my learning style; you will use the teacher's favorite
Please tell me how most students even become aware of their learning styles
without thoughtful dialog with others...most likely an adult. And please
tell me how we got along for thousands of years learning without the aid of
>I will collaborate with my peers from around the world; you will
>collaborate with peers in your classroom.
Yeah, right. Does this mean we don't need to know how to collaborate with
our classroom peers or that it's less important? Does this mean that we
already do a such a fine job of communicating and collaboratine with our
peers that we don't need to practice it anymore? (Note the sarcasm.)
>I will take my learning as far as I want; you must wait for the rest
>of the class.
I believe it is very naive to think that a computer will take anyone as far
as they want in their learning.
from his soapbox at
Bellows Free Academy