Saturday, August 20, 2005

Textbook free school?

I hope this does not become a trend because I think it's a really bad idea.

I think computers should have limited uses in schools. They should be desingated to one classroom where the kids learn computer skills but kids should not be using them for everything. I spend too much time on a computer and I hate it. I still like doing research in a library. I still type most first drafts on a typewriter and extensive notes on legal pads are used before that. How's a kid supposed to learn to write if he has a computer fixing his grammar and spelling all the time? How's a kid supposed to learn how to appreciate things like the dewey decimal system and cracking open a newspaper? How's a kid going to read To Kill a Mockingbird or Huck Finn? How are they supposed to learn things like that if the only thing they have to work with at school is a laptop?

It's criminal.

Computers take the life out of things. It boils everything down to ridiculous simplicity. I once read a book by a guy named Cliff Stoll and he postulated that if you give kids computers and ask them a question, and they use the computer to extropolate an answer that they all get similar answers and they stop thinking creatively for answers. You ask them: What is 7? You type 7 into Google and all you get is a bunch of software with a version with 7 in it. But if you ask kids that by themselves, no computers, and let their imaginations take them away, you could get a variety of answers. Mathematical equations, the number of samurai in Kurosawas best film, what that guy on Seinfeld wants to name his kid.

Computers suck the imagination away from people and puts imagination into the hands of others.

It's criminal.


Kevin said...

I am not down on technology in the classroom. The first iteration of computers in the classroom will bring out everything bad in computers ... simplicity, etc., as the technology evolves it will take on complexity and become much more interesting.

There's a thousand different paths leading through every field of study. Eventually technology will be letting kids find their own path.

The discovery of Montessori was that kids will learn at an accelerated pace when they are given a room filled with fascinating items.

I think that technology will eventually allow a method for extending Montesorrian techniques beyond pre school.

PS Montessori's daughter invented Frankenstein. So, Montessori could be considered the grand mother of Frankenstein.

Elias said...

I can see plenty of advantages and disadvantages right off the bat. Anyone who makes a snap judgement one way or the other should stop and analyze the possibilities. It's not like the HAL 9000 series will be running the school but I do think that the basic ideas presented in 2001 A Space Odyssey. It's become very easy to rely on technology as opposed to our wits and skills.
I do however believe that spell check on the computer is one of the greatest tools in the world. I am a terrible speller and I think it has very little to do with schooling if you ask me, as I enrolled in and aced most every advanced english or writing course available in school but that didn't change the fact that when I walk into any given room in my house I have no idea why I did so, or the fact that I can remember the name of the girl I had a crush on in the first grade but I can't recall the names of people I interact with on a regular basis. All minds work differently and that is something that should be valued in any educational institution and as long as we remember that as the Montessori schools do, we should be ol' korect.
We need to concentrate more on curriculum (probably misspelled) and environment than technology if you want my humble opinion. Fuck this standardized testing and fuck channel 1 and fuck Coke and Pepsi and fuck Christopher Columbus and fuck banning subversive clubs and fuck banning books with naughty words and boobies in them and fuck high school football. It is nearly impossible to modivate yourself in an environment that feels more like a shopping mall daycare center than an institute of learning. I think that private schools will be The Ramones of our future educational system.
I don't mean to sound bitter, my school just had a lot of problems, none of which I believe would have been resolved or compounded by access to laptop computers...
...oh yeah, and fuck channel 1 one more time...

Elias said...

Wow I just woke up from a nightmarish nap on my couch when i wrote that last post. Looking back on it, I don't think it makes a damn bit of sense. I think I was awake by the tail end of the post, but what was I saying about HAL 9000? And what's with all the cussing. What a classless moron.

My head hurts.

Texture said...

Yes, and when they invented the book they should have stuck with the scroll, and hell, why even use paper? We should have just kept painting walls instead of moving to paper and scrolls in my opinion.
It's social evolution guys, a book is a piece of technology as much as a computer is - we're moving foward, it's a good thing. Embrace it, it's part of what we are - an evolving species.

Bryan said...

I don't think computers are bad for the classroom. I just think schools that only teach on computers are bad. We do need to teach computers and on computers, but not everything.

I just think it takes things too far.

And it isn't like I haven't embraced computers. We don't seem to be communicating by mail.

Texture said...

I understand - but hopefully there's going to be a day when there aren't books, when we aren't archaically destroying forests to print information on. It's more productive, more efficient, and has the potential to create less bulk waste. If we live another 100 years and this doesn't happen, it's going to be because of some catastrophic event. One of the real troubles facing the youth of the world. Global terrorism, nuclear weapons, the drug war, how aboutan administration that cares more about inflicting it's religious will on the people than protecting freedom or democracy.
My point is this; There are a lot of problems - computers aren't one of them.

Elias said...

Sure computers can be great learning tools, I just think that it could compound a problem that is a largest youth epidemic facing our country today: physical fitness.

I am amazed at how many unhealthy, impatient and socially retarded shut-ins our computer culture has spawned. I just think that equally progressive physical fitness programs should balance out the computer/technical programs in our public schools. What good is a nation full of computer wizzes if they can't even handle vaccuming their apartments without taking a Diet Pepsi break?

Wilma said...

Computers aren't the problem, it is the abuse of them and the lack of learning by any other way to function. Not to mention the cost, and if it's not trees we're destroying, it's the computer waste and disposal problems we'll come upon in the future.
Laast time I checked, a notebook costs $.10 and I don't even need to mention the cost of a decent working computer, software, internet, etc.......
So Yes, there are a lot of problems, but I do agree that computers can be one of them.

Anonymous said...

Why must our species look at everything and instantly make a moral judgment? If they weren't teaching enough computers, you'd be complaining. If they were teaching them too much you'd complain. If they were down the middle, someone would complain.