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The integration of computers in schools

INTRODUCTION

My thesis before I researched this topic was that it is good to have computers in schools, and at home: because, they open up a world (the internet, chat rooms); and, because computer literacy is necessary in this advanced society (for example, at libraries now the catalogues are computerized instead of on cards). Computer-based instruction in schools is good, because it is a self-paced as opposed to a group-paced activity.

OVERVIEW OF THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Unlike many topics in the History of Education, the use of computers is relatively new.
The following timeline is taken from [Molnar]:
* 1944 - First operational computer, the Mark 1, at Harvard
* 1946 - The ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania. Early computers were used by science, maths, and engineering, replacing slide rules for solving problems of the size faced in the real world.
* 1959 - PLATO at the University of Illinois: first large-scale project for use in education, a several-thousand terminal system serving undergraduate education, elementary school reading, community college, and several campuses.
Thus, the use of computers in education is 35 years old.
* 1963 - Invention of BASIC, a new easy-to-use programming language: it spread rapidly and was used for the creation of computer-based instruction materials for a wide variety of subjects and all levels of schooling
* 1963 - Stanford math and reading individualized computer-assisted instruction, rather than group-paced
* Early 1970s - MIT developed the LOGO programming language, accessible to children and easy-to-use, used in elementary schools
* 1974 - 2 million students in the U.S. using computers; National Science Foundation set up 30 regional computing networks
* 1975 - 55% of schools in the U.S. had access to a computer
* 1975 - relatively inexpensive and ubiquitous personal computers replace expensive time-shared computers
* 1980s - computers added to schools' curriculum
* 1984 -beginning of the internet, when the NSF networked several supercomputers, and schools were linked too for research
* 1987 - National Geographic KidsNet created, brings inquiry-based learning to elementary school children. In 1991, 6000 classrooms in 72 countries used KidsNet, and more than 90% of teachers reported that it significantly increased interest in and time spent on science.
* 1995 - World Wide Web and the Internet begins to catch on; Microsoft Windows 95 is the first MS operating system to include network connectivity out of the box

DISCUSSION OF CURRENT ISSUES AND DEBATE AROUND THE TOPIC

Pros

Some of the pros for computers in education are:
* Computers help people to manage complex (large quantities of) data: for example, spreadsheets and graphs help you process large sets of numbers, and search engines help you manage large quantities of text. In some fields this is essential, for example it is estimated that would take a person 22 centuries to read the annual biomedical research literature. [Molnar]
* Word-processing and composition, because correction is easy and spell-checking helps to make the work perfect. [page 243, Kropp]
* Networked computers permit telecommunications (to help learn about things that are not located in the classroom), and decentralization (so that you can access information from several sources, and learn from several learning networks). [Cummins]
* Distance Education courses with my home computer, and it was a good experience (I am a mature student): it does cut down on the commuting time
* Many kids like to work with computers, for whatever reason. [page 243, Kropp]
* Chat rooms and email promote writing literacy (compared with using the telephone).
* The Internet and online references provide near-instant access to information on almost any topic: for example dyslexia, Mars, or Monarch butterflies.
* Computer literacy is a vocational skill.
* Computers can be used as sophisticated modelling tools in science, maths, and engineering

Cons

Some cons are:
* A teacher in my field placement described the children as "manic, crazed, and obsessed" when the computer was on in the classroom (and she was glad when it wasn't working).
* Children aren't adults, so the fact that computers are vocationally useful isn't necessarily a good reason for having them in the school, especially in elementary school.
* There was a good example in the Failure to Connect book of a child's being "frantic" and "stressed" when playing a racing maze game on the computer; also, she wasn't demonstrating any problem-solving or mapping skills: when asked, she didn't know why she had picked up the rope in the game. In this example, the parents' attitudes were counter-productive and misinformed: they thought she was using the computer properly; and were excited that she knew how to use the computer; part of her stress may have been caused by her trying to earn her parents' esteem by playing the computer game well. [page 204, Healy]
* Computers are tools, not goals: however, young children aren't wise enough to tell the difference between a tool and a goal.
* Computers are expensive, both in money and in time. To use them in the classroom requires teacher expertise: how to use a computer; what to use computers for; and, how to teach using computers.
* Data received through a computer may be unfiltered and uncriticised: by contrast, for example, the books available in a school library have been carefully selected.
* In groups, one kid tends to hog the computer. [page 243, Kropp]
* Some children will guess, rather than attempt to learn, with a machine. [page 243, Kropp]
* Computers may give the impression that information is always visual, and entertaining. [page 243, Kropp]
* Computers give children no human love, support, or encouragement. [page 243, Kropp]
* Businesses are trying to influence the use of computers in schools. However, businesses are geared towards profit, and are consequently not fit to influence the educational agenda. [pages 148-152, Barlow] [pages 297-299, Healy
* David Suzuki says that the "cry for computer literacy has been ... one of the biggest cons ever foisted on the school system". [page 148, Barlow]

MY POSITION ON THE TOPIC

My position on the topic is that children should be about seven years old (i.e. at least Grade 2) before they begin to use computers. Before then, they should be playing with real things, reading, and interacting socially with real people. Children may be tempted to emulate their parent's use of computers; however, I think that parents should protect their children from exposure to computers until the children have acquired some maturity:
* "Yes, we get a lot of pressure from parents, but we believe the gains from working with computers do not outweigh the losses for four- and five-year olds. At this age they need to be pushing Play-doh, not buttons." [page 242, Healy]
* "After you've developed your own brain, then you can have an artificial one to play with." [mother, quoted on page 203, Healy]
* "People are horrified when I tell them my own [six-year-old] child's not on the computer. ... Actually, I think it's our job as adults to protect them, not expose them to all this stuff." [pre-school teacher, quoted on page 203, Healy]
* "Buy my four-year-old a computer? What nonsense! She needs first to build up her own mind, to learn writing, math. You must realise the computer can only do what the human mind tells it to. Our children need good minds so they'll be able to run the computers!" [industrial software engineer, quoted on page 206, Healy]

POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS

I expect that a continuing and perhaps increasing use of computers in schools is inevitable. However, I hope that teachers and parents are aware of the many ways in which computers do not help children to develop as whole individuals, nor promote the overall educational agenda, and that they will find appropriate ways to integrate computers with education.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

* Barlow, Maude and Robertson, Heather-Jane. (1994). Class Warfare: The Assault on Canada's Schools. Key Porter Books Ltd. Toronto.
* Kropp, Paul and Hodson, Lynda. (1995). The School Solution: Getting Canada's Schools to Work for Your Children. Random House of Canada. Toronto
* Cummins, Jim and Dayers, Dennis. (1997).Brave New Schools: Challenging Cultural Illiteracy. St. Martin's Press. New York.
* Healy, Jane M. (1998). Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect out Children's Minds - for Better and Worse. Simon and Schuster. New York.
* Molnar, Andrew. (1997). Computers in Education: A Brief History. The Journal. http://www.thejournal.com/magazine/vault/a1681.cfm

Laura Wells
Sunday, March 07, 2004

> My position on the topic is that children should be about seven years old (i.e. at least Grade 2) before they begin to use computers

My position is that the only place where computers should be used in grade school is the library catalog. All other uses are harmful to education.

> Some of the pros for computers in education are:

The "pros" you listed apply to *college* education, but they do not apply to grade-school education:

> Computers help people to manage complex (large quantities of) data

Grade school education is not about managing large quantities of data. It is about understandging fundamentals.
Whenever I see my 16-year old dealing with large quantities of data, it is because he is doing "science project", which is just another example of "cargo-cult science" http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html

> Word-processing and composition, because correction is easy and spell-checking helps to make the work perfect.

Did you ever observe a kid writing anything on a computer?
Instead of thinking about what he is writing, he is contantly distracted by "auto-correction" (I know it can be turned off, but they usually don't). The result is that "kds cn't spel a thng", and the quality of their writing abysmal.

BTW, an argument can also be made that the (sorry) state of computer programming in this country is partly due to the high availability of interactive terminals: when you had to submit your program on a punch-card deck and get results a day later, you spent a lot more time *thinking* about your program, and thinikng about it is a good thing.

> Networked computers permit telecommunications (to help learn about things that are not located in the classroom)

Learning about things not located in the classroom does not require telecommunications, it only requires a good teacher.

> Distance Education courses with my home computer

These do not work for many adults (they require great self-discipline). Percentage of grade-school kinds that are able to learn anything via distance-learning is probably extremely small.

> Many kids like to work with computers, for whatever reason.

They don't. They like to *play* on them.

> Chat rooms and email promote writing literacy

Chat rooms and IM provide a constant stream of distractions, promote very short attention span, and very poor writing style.

> The Internet and online references provide near-instant access to information on almost any topic: for example dyslexia, Mars, or Monarch butterflies.

They do. They also provide very dis-organized collection of information, much of which is inaccurate. And the reason kids *need* such info, is usually because they are doing the science project.

> Computer literacy is a vocational skill.

True. Learn them in college.

> Computers can be used as sophisticated modelling tools in science, maths, and engineering

That's science project again. Grade school is not about sophisticated modelling.

Employed Russian
Sunday, March 07, 2004

"> Word-processing and composition, because correction is easy and spell-checking helps to make the work perfect.

Did you ever observe a kid writing anything on a computer?
Instead of thinking about what he is writing, he is contantly distracted by "auto-correction" (I know it can be turned off, but they usually don't). The result is that "kds cn't spel a thng", and the quality of their writing abysmal."

Agreed 100%. Here's an easy study I'd like to see - go to each 7th grade classroom in a school and ask for writing samples from each of the top five writers in the class. Then ask for a handwritten essay from each of them (direct, not via the teacher)

My older daughter is a good writer, but I freaked when I finally saw her hand write something - her spelling was *awful*. I immediately mandated that she would write *everything* by hand first, then type it. In one year her spelling has improved 100%.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, March 07, 2004

A computer in the home is a good thing.  But they have no place in elementary schools and extremely limited usefulness in high school.

They idea that children must begin using computers at a very young age, or else they will be "left behind" by the rest of the world, is one of the most absurd lies ever created.  The areas where American children lag behind the rest of the world -- reading, math, science -- have nothing to do with whether or not they have learned to use a computer.

The school years prior to college are about learning the basics.

Computers in classrooms only serve to distract and their presence in the classrom has resulted in students who are well versed in Chat, Instant Messaging and the latest video games, but have no reading, writing or math skills and little knowledge of science and history.

Joe on Software (Joe)
Sunday, March 07, 2004

A slightly different point of view:

I had the good fortune of going to a very good grade school.  We had very good teachers in many subjects, and we had a computer lab with Apple 2e's in about 1979-80.  We had a class completely separate from all other classes on using the computer, and we actually wrote toy programs in Logo, and the best students got to program in Basic.  Thanks to that I was interested enough in actually doing things with computers that at age 10 I wrote a Zork style program that did really simple parsing of commands.  It had a program that let you enter connectivity of rooms, a brief description of the room, objects, and obstacles, and it would save all that to a disk.  Then another program would load all that into memory and you could play the game.  For a different program I created a simple bubble sort routine - big deal, so what...but at age 10.  This is all due to the presence of not just the computers but a quality teacher.

Yes, kids will play on them, and IM, and search for mp3's - *IF* the system is set up to let them do it.  I would suggest having the computers set up in a computer lab that aren't even networked to each other, let alone the internet.  Each should have only the programs relevant to the class installed, with the rest of the system totally locked down.  In the library, the computers should be linked only to the central server, not the internet, and should only provide access to the research materials approrpriate - and also a system that lets the kids know if a given book is checked out or not.  Let the kids have a really basic word processor to type up reports and papers - there's no need to discriminate against kids whose parents either can't afford or won't buy a computer - but for the sake of humanity disable the spelling checker and penalize the kids who get it wrong.

The problem is not just the computers - it is that the people administering them don't have the skills to do it right, and the schools that buy the machines don't have the money to hire the (much higher cost) people that do have said skills.  It's also the problem of discipline - kids will find ways to waste time whether or not computers are in the room.  It's not a new problem - I'm not being the curmudgeon saying "Back in my day..." - I fully recognize how fortunate I was to have such good teachers.

Aaron F Stanton
Sunday, March 07, 2004

I think the most important point you raise is the one about computers being a tool rather than a goal.
I personally believe that computers should not be emphasized in the classroom to the extent that they are sometimes these days. I think the more important issue is "how are our kids being taught" and "how much attention are they getting from teachers (i.e. student-to-teacher ratio)" If the class is already doing well and has a great teaching staff, etc. then the computer could become a useful tool. But more frequently, its use it a distraction that keeps kids from learning what's really important at that age.

I remember hearing a piece on NPR a few months ago about this very same topic. There was a man talking about how he had gone around to hundreds of schools (perhaps he was one of the authors you referenced -- I can't remember). He said that there were a few cases where the computers were actually helpful, but these were classes that were already quite successful and had great teachers. More often than not, though, the computers were a detriment that kept the kids from actually *learning* anything. He had a great quote: "when you keep things simple, you allow for personal complexity to arise" -- meaning that the computer has so much complication and is so narrowly defined in how it is used and what it does, that kids don't learn to think for themselves [on a side note, this quote also reminds me of the whole HTML-as-a-simple-text-language issue -- the reason it's so great is because of its limitations and simplicity. But I digress...]

Anyway, we have a whole heap of more important issues to worry about when it comes to education (in the United States, anyway), and hopefully people are realizing that "having computers in the classroom" is not going to be the magic bullet that solves all of our problems easily.
So, on to the next magic bullet... keep boobies off TV?

  -Jordan

Jordan Lev
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Two of the biggest cons in this world are computers and education so imagine what happens when tney get together.

- says somebody whose job is the use of computers in educations :)

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 07, 2004

"High-Tech Heretic : Reflections of a Computer Contrarian " by Clifford Stoll
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385489765/

http://www.familyhaven.com/parenting/hightechheretic.html

Fred
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Employed Russian is right on target.  None of the original posters "pro" arguments are valid, and her "con" arguments barely scratch the surface but are reason enough to keep computers out.

Grade school education is already rather shabby and is only harmed by computers in the classroom.  The zombification of most children at home by television and video games has already produced generations increasingly swollen with morons of almost no capacity for critical thought, creativity, and human sympathy.  Likewise deaden the classroom to learning and thought by introducing these visually-stimulating, random-fact-generating crutches to concentration and the the damage will be complete.  (Bear in mind, I'm a computer programmer saying this, not a luddite.  Computers play important roles in our society, but the education of partially-formed minds is not one of them.)

The quoted parent was right that "after you've developed your own brain, then you can have an artificial one to play with".  But a keen brain doesn't start to appear for most kids until the late teens if ever at all.  The poster's position is a good one, if only she adds ten to her suggested age of introduction.

veal
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Dear veal,

> her "con" arguments barely scratch the surface

Did I miss something, apart from "swollen with morons of almost no capacity for critical thought, creativity, and human sympathy", and "deaden the classroom to learning and thought by introducing these visually-stimulating, random-fact-generating crutches to concentration"?

Can you put that in terms my History of Education professor would understand?

I'm studying Early Childhood Education, and have had a computer in my pre-school room in Field.

I'd formed an opinion about computers for 2- to 5-year olds. It's been interesting to read your thoughts about computers for school-aged children on top of that.

Laura Wells
Sunday, March 07, 2004

It's been my observation that most computer savy parents are againts computers in the classroom.  I also fit this mold; I'm a programmer and I have a six-year-old in grade 1. 

Secretly, I think, most educators and parents want the computer to replace instruction.  If we can put kids in front of the box and they can learn from it then we don't need as many teachers, helpers, etc.

My own personal experience with computers in the classroom was fairly positive:

Having a computer in the classroom in Grade 3 demonstrated my aptitude for it.  My teacher told my parents that they should invest in a computer for me (c64).  I might not be here, typing this, if it wasn't for that.

In Grade 7, our block of time allocated for computers was spent doing the entire Microsoft Words (for DOS) tutorial.  I learned all about word processors, spreadsheets, etc.  That knowledge is still applicable, even today.

Almost Anonymous
Sunday, March 07, 2004

One big problem is computers can be antisocial to various cultures.  Currently the best way to learn from them is with exposure to "unpleasant" viewpoints.  Such as the real world of professional adults (who swear or make unfunny erotic jokes around the water cooler), and the fact that one needs to filter through a lot of information which appears plainly wrong but everyone should confront anyway.  This facet of computing seems incompatible with the formal education of children, at least in the US and certain other countries.

But people should become familiar enough with computers to not fear them.  Movies and the news often portray adults fearing them because sensationalism sells better than positive images.  Children should probably see a few different computers, and be shown that today's general-purpose machines have interfaces where one needs to learn a small, idiomatic language (usually of mouseclicks) in order to use applications reasonably easily.  Of course, the quality of these interfaces is as much as one can expect given that nerds in cubicle dungeons develop them, so it really is best not to be attached to a particular one...  One day many of them will have to decide which machines suit their goals best, and they should demand the computers conform to their needs, not the other way around.

Also, hopefully educators have non-toxic forums with which to exchange clever ideas.  Aside from my brilliant machine, computers are pretty dumb.  They require cleverness in their operation.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, March 08, 2004

As in all things, it's not the tool it's what you do with it.

I have no problems with computers in classrooms, but then I'm also a school governor with responsibilty for I.T., so that's not surprising.  (English Infant + Junior School, ages 5-11).

My problem isn't with the computers, it's with the software.  For example I have argued against the school using Microsoft Office in the classroom because it's too big, too complex, and just too much.  Far better to have a simple tool that's easy to use, easy to explore, and most importantly - easy to understand!

We don't learn to read by starting with Tolstoy.

We shouldn't start our kids' computer education off with Microsoft Office, spell-checkers and so on.

This isn't to knock Office, it's just that it's not appropriate for teaching children about computers.

David B. Wildgoose
Monday, March 08, 2004

I'm only 17 at the moment, but I remember when I was little. We had a commodore 64 with some games, I played it for at most 2 hours a month. The rest of my time was spent building things with lego, playing transformers, using my imagination.

We didn't have computers at school until about year 4, which was good because I actually learned how to spell. They weren't networked, and I didn't know what the Internet was, we carried stuff around on disks. We got a nintendo at home (SNES) when I was about 9, and by then I still hardly even played it because I had more fun with my imagination.

My little siblings though, I never see them outside. They sit on the computer or X-Box all day long when they're not at school. They have toys but they never play with them, it's always pokemon or watching cartoon network.

I think they're really missing out on a lot because they don't have to use their imaginations anymore. Who needs to pretend to be in the army when they can have computer generated models in 3D in front of them.

While I think schools place far too much importance in computers, I think that the use of computers as a replacement for imagination is much more dangerous. School is important, but lets not confuse it with education.

Paul Stovell
Monday, March 08, 2004

A computer in a classroom is an educational tool, just like all the other materials. It can be used and abused.
My five year old >loves< computers. They have one computer in the classroom. It is commonly used as one of the "activities", where they split up the class in small groups (3-4 childeren), and each group has there own activity. They mostly use specific educational software, but also sometimes "normal" games.
During playtime childeren can also sometimes opt to play a computer game (as opposed to playing with the dollhouses, wooden castle, book reading, lego blocks etc.).

At home he gets to play on the family computer. His favorite game by far is http://www.microsoft.com/games/pc/age2.aspx . I have noticed that there are very, very few games that are a good match for him. Often the true children's games are too unchallenging, and the more general games offer mostly extremely bad user interfaces. AoEII is a gem though. The interface is very intuitive, even for 5 year olds, and the scenario editor allows you great flexibility to set up interesting but achievable challenges. I would not like him playing alone for hours on end, but playing together is great fun for both of us. Another game he liked was http://sirrus.cyan.com/online/Riven/RivenHome , but he grew bored of it after a while.

Does it "dumb" the kids?
I tend to be very conservative about the use of technology in education. There is always the danger of it being introduced as a substitute, and I think we can safely say we'd all agree that contemporary tech would be a very poor substitute for a teacher. However, where well applied as a compliment, it seems to be doing a great job.
Things that I noticed:
- His arithmetic certainly got a boost because of the needs for it  that arise within the games.
- His reading improved, even though the games are aften in english, which is only his third language. He doesn't mind "writing" with a keyboard, whereas he is not too fond of writing on paper (pen and paper take longer because it is fysically more chanlanging, and the slowdown distracts him too much).
- It seems to have boosted his confidence. e.g. In the strategy games he has discovered that not all has to be "perfect" all the time. Sometimes you have to accept losses in oder to win. this was a "big thing" for him.

For you developers out there: AoEII was also seems to have unintentionally been a way for him to discover "programming". When we played Lego Mindstorms together for the first time, he had no problems whatsoever with the concept of "programming", since to him it was a logical extention of telling his men what to do (In AoEII you set each of your units tasks which they execute). Writing a program for the robot too him was just a logical extention of setting a sequence of tasks.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 08, 2004

Oeps, that was not the version I intended to post.

A computer in a classroom is an educational tool, just like all the other materials. It can be used and abused.
My five year old >loves< computers. They have one computer in the classroom. It is commonly used as one of the "activities", where they split up the class in small groups (3-4 children), and each group has there own activity. They mostly use specific educational software, but also sometimes "normal" games.
During playtime children can also sometimes opt to play a computer game (as opposed to playing with the dollhouses, wooden castle, book reading, Lego blocks etc.).

At home he gets to play on the family computer. His favorite game by far is http://www.microsoft.com/games/pc/age2.aspx . I have noticed that there are very, very few games that are a good match for him. Often the true children's games are too unchallenging, and the more general games offer mostly extremely child hostile user interfaces. AoEII is a gem though. The interface is very intuitive, even for 5 year olds, and the scenario editor allows you great flexibility to set up interesting but achievable challenges. I would not like him playing alone for hours on end, but playing together is great fun for both of us. Another game he liked was http://sirrus.cyan.com/online/Riven/RivenHome , but he grew bored of it after a while.

Does it "dumb" the kids?
I tend to be very conservative about the use of technology in education. There is always the danger of it being introduced as a substitute, and I think we can safely say we'd all agree that contemporary tech would be a very poor substitute for a teacher. However, where well applied as a compliment, it seems to be doing a great job.

Things that I noticed:
- His arithmetic certainly got a boost because of the needs for it that arise within the games.
- His reading improved, even though the games are often in English, which is only his third language. He doesn't mind "writing" with a keyboard, whereas he was not too fond of writing on paper. Pen and paper take longer because it is physically more challenging, and the slowdown distracted him too much. Now that he feels more confident about writing, he also minds the “manual” writing less.
- It seems to have boosted his confidence. e.g. In the strategy games he has discovered that not all has to be "perfect" all the time. Sometimes you have to accept losses in order to win. This was a "big thing" for him, as he always had a perfectionist tendency.

Note that none of these things >require< a computer. Math, reading, confidence, strategy etc. can all be learned just as well without. But in this particular case the computer as a tool just happened to be there and the results were far from disastrous.

For you developers out there: AoEII was also seems to have unintentionally been a way for him to discover "programming". When we played Lego Mindstorms together for the first time, he had no problems whatsoever with the concept of "programming. In AoEII you set each of your units tasks which they then execute. Writing a program for the robot too him was just a logical extension of setting a sequence of tasks.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 08, 2004

Laura,

How about these few issues off the top of my head.

Computers are bad teachers...
Computers merely transmit facts, and the interactivity they provide is not sufficiently rich to evaluate whether those fact-transmissions resulted in deep learning, nor to adjust or augment the presentation to suit the learner.  Only a human teacher can do that well.  You mentioned one facet of this: when a computer tries to gauge the student's progress to decide whether to move ahead, it has no access to visual and audible cues to know whether the student is thinking about answers or merely parroting or guessing.  Also, the overwhelming bulk of the information transmitted through computers and the internet is in the form of sporadic, disjoint factoids.  Learning is most effective when the learner has a strong framework on which to hang the facts, and truly understand those facts in context.  Layering and order of presentation are important.  To use an absurd example, you could probably induce a 10-year-old to memorize the symbols of LaGrange's Theorem, but that doesn't serve him one whit without a larger framework of calculus (to say nothing of lower math) on which to hang it.

Other posters described well the substitute brain or crutch factor, as in spelling.

"Computers" as a topic for children demonstrates poor ordering of material...
Children still have a great deal of fundamental understanding they need to acquire.  By their late teens, if they learned well, they can easily learn in a term or two any "computer skills" most of them will ever need.  Again here, the order of presentation matters, and time wasted learning things before they're needed displaces learning more immediately important things, and building mental frameworks on which to base later learning.  The very few that will love and pursue programming or computer engineering will *easily* learn more about computers in the last few years of high school than they could ever accumulate in grade school, and without displacing grade school time spent learning more urgent subject matter.

Computer use easily displaces critical social interaction...
You yourself mentioned social interaction in your position statement.  Time pissed away mesmerized by the orgasmic visuals offered by a computer steals time the child could be experiencing rich personal interactions with other children.  In our society, the children will eventually get ample time to have their souls killed as cogs within the economic machine.  Please let them experience what it is to be *human* before that dehumanizing process begins.

Computers could displace physical learning...
I could easily imagine the situation of a child asking the teacher if they may "work on the computer" instead of going out for recess.  What teacher would say no, knowing many misguided parents would berate them for such a denial.

"Computers" as subject matter could displace other subjects...
With 6 hours in the teaching day, which subjects are pushed aside first to make room for "more important" subjects in creating the polite little worker?  Those that make us most wise, most creative, most interesting, most human?  History?  Music?  Art?  Literature?

veal
Monday, March 08, 2004

Computere are useful backup. All the arguments given here against computers have been used previously against books in the classroom, and have been swept aside.

Also people are confusting computers in the classroom as tools for learning other subjects, and as a subject of study in themselves.

The main use of computers in education is for self-study, and so computers should be in nearly every home, or at least just down the road at the public library or homework club (which is becoming feasible in the developed world). Computers in the classroom thus become less important. You need to use them just enough for the students to get the hang of how to use them. For language teaching, which is my speciality, I would say about one lesson in five or ten is enough.

I agree with David that teaching MS Office in detail is counter-productive. The program will be out of date by the time the kids start working, so the teaching should be less restrictive (do some spreadsheet work in Excel and then use Star Office and then something else so they get the basic concept.

And if we are dealing with five to ten year olds, what is wrong with Logo. I had great fun years back leading the computer class out into the yard tomarch around and do ninety degree turns so they could go back and do it on screen.

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 08, 2004

Schools can't do everything, although more and more is dumped on them. "School is a great place to learn computers/sex ed/ sports, etc."


What are we willing to have shools GIVE UP in order to teach computers?

The time and money for computers must come from somewhere.

The real Entrepreneur
Monday, March 08, 2004

What did we GIVE UP when we introduced blackboards, books, photocopies, slides, ballpoint pens, calculators, ...?

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

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