Schools without computers — by choice and conviction that they don’t help kids

If you read Tuesday’s blog entry on the startling numbers of babies and toddlers parked in front of TVs and computers screens, take a look at this New York Times story on how many Silicon Valley computer execs — including the chief technology officer of eBay — send their kids to the Waldorf school, a school that shuns technology in its classrooms.

(There is a Waldorf school in Decatur.)

According to the story:

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

An interesting quote in the story came from parent Alan Eagle, who works for Google:

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

63 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 26th, 2011
4:34 am

Maureen, you’re trying to start trouble- for the clueless, technophilic, prodigal educrats who worship at the altars of THE NEW, THE ELECTRONIC, and THE EXPENSIVE.

Struggling Teacher but Proud

October 26th, 2011
5:49 am

I applaud this methodology!

Peter Smagorinsky

October 26th, 2011
6:11 am

Interesting that the software companies’ advertisements spread the message that kids who don’t own Ipads, etc., are missing out on something big.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

October 26th, 2011
6:27 am

“Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise.”

Because schools admins nationwide are taking “kickbacks” to supply said school with a particular brand of computer and/or software. I applaud this idea of schools without computers.

BTW…what happened to all those laptops that were supplied years ago. Betcha most have simply disappeared…

reality 2

October 26th, 2011
6:41 am

Technology is just a tool. No electronic equipment will make a bad/mediocre teacher a good teacher. Schools are forced into purchasing the most up-do-date technologies because of the “policy” set by the districts.

However, technologies can enhance teaching – but, once again, teaching has to be reasonably good. No tool can enhance poor teaching – I suppose it can make it even poorer.

The Art of Teaching

October 26th, 2011
6:43 am

No computer can replace a good teacher. Computers can serve as an additional resource.

It is unwise to think otherwise.

catlady

October 26th, 2011
6:55 am

Oh, no! What about these online schools? You mean the governor might be pushing them for some reason other than that they are not the BEST thing for the kids? Like, that they save money?

dcb

October 26th, 2011
7:20 am

No surprise here. I led college-prep independent schools for over thirty years and did a lot of the college and career counseling with kids and their parents. My estimate is that over 75% of the parents expressed opinions that they didn’t want their children going into their career fields. The Waldorf School proprietory alternate education climate markets the tree huggers and environmentalists – no surprise anti-tech is the rule of the day there.

dcb

October 26th, 2011
7:31 am

And to those expressing opinions that no computer will ever replace the good teacher – no argument from me. But the good teacher is a guide to learning, who always will incorporate the tools in their trade that do more than simply teach facts and figures. Tools that allow students to know how to find sources providing as much background as possible leading to informed conclusions and solutions, and tools that they will have to use later in life to have similar success. Thank goodness the day is here where a student’s learning is no longer restricted to what the memory and opinion bank of the teacher would allow.

where is ted kosinsky

October 26th, 2011
7:42 am

Kids no longer have quick retrieval skills. With all of the emphasis on computers and technology, the elementary teachers do not bother to have them memorize all of that boring stuff that they will actually need to retrieve when they get to high school.

concerned

October 26th, 2011
7:49 am

Technology is a tool than can enhance learning. Like anything else it can be misused. I tend to agree that children do not need to have access to a computer until they are in sixth grade. Then students are ready to use technology to enhance their education by creating projects for their classes. But, they need to be taught to respect the technology and to use it effectively, not as a toy. If they aren’t taught computer skills in school then how will they be prepared for the work place that requires the use of technology?

teacher&mom

October 26th, 2011
7:53 am

Technology is great but in the hands to young adults it is a daily battle for their attention. If there is one second of “downtime” in the classroom, they are on the smart phones playing games, checking their twitter/facebook accounts, &/or texting.

Cheating on tests has taken on whole new dimension with handheld technology.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology….

jr

October 26th, 2011
7:59 am

Waldorf takes things too far, but I agree that at least elementary kids don’t need as much tech. We need to be supporting school libraries and librarians and critical thinking. Think how many interesting books could be purchased for the price of one SmartBoard and then look at the research which definitively shows you get more educational bang for your buck with the books.

@ Catlady (6:55 am)

October 26th, 2011
8:04 am

FYI:

The online industry contributes heavily to candidates and political parties. School board members and upper level administrators are constantly being ”sought” after by hardware and software vendors. Money and “gifts” bring home the “bacon.”

Truth in Moderation

October 26th, 2011
8:17 am

The computer is indispensable for home schooling. Home school co-ops keep in touch via e-mail. So do home school kids. Top rate teachers and classes are accessed via streaming video. Geography comes alive with Google Earth. There is no question my incredibly curious 10 year old asks, that I can’t get an answer for using “Google University.” Whatever the topic we are studying, we can immediately get photos or videos. My son was studying the speeches of Martin Luther King, and he was able to watch films of the actual speeches. Our laptop also doubles as a dvd player for educational movies. We don’t own a TV, but use iTunes to download all kinds of quality programming on history, science, and industry. All of mine have up-to–date computers, and have excellent programming, graphic design, and powerpoint skills. A traditional classroom, however, is unable to utilize technology the way home schoolers can. My high schooler leaves his peers in the dust when it comes to computing skills. He’s already written his own game engine and is developing a game for the iPad to finance his college. Yes, don’t let your students near technology. Less competition for us. LOL!

@ Catlady (6:55 am) & FYI (8:04 am)

October 26th, 2011
8:17 am

You are absolutely correct.

That’s exactly how it works here in APS. You don’t get to first base if you don’t pad pockets. This is especially true for building construction contracts. Lowest and “best” (kick back) wins every time!

The Inside Scoop
3rd floor,
130 Trinity Ave.

Grumpy Old Man

October 26th, 2011
8:19 am

Kids no longer talking but texting, texting instead of calling, co-workers in the next cubicle sending e-mails rather than walking over and having a conversation, pressing this or that number when promtpted by an automated voice when calling for customer service, scanning your own purchases at the grocery store while being prompted by a computer generated voice at the self checkout, socializing via facebook and twitter and on and on. I’m afraid personal human interaction other than sexual contact will become a nusance for too many humans.

Old Physics Teacher

October 26th, 2011
8:25 am

The old saw will always hold true: “The best classroom is a log. Nothing else is needed if one end has a qualified teacher and the other a willing student.”
Our problem is that we have too many “students” that aren’t willing. I’ll also grant that we do have “teachers” who have gotten into the profession because of the income, and are not worth what they are being paid – even if it is a pittance. That being said, we were taught in the 60’s by extraordinarily un-knowledgeable science teachers using information that was out-of-date in the 1930’s. It had no deleterious effects. Those of us that needed the correct information got it in college – even if it did surprise us that what we “knew” was true was, in fact, quite wrong. My classmates, and I, were far more concerned about what would happen to us at home if we did poorly in school than we were about how much and what we were taught. We learned – whether or not we wanted to. The “willing” student is far more important that the “qualified” teacher.

SPARKY

October 26th, 2011
8:28 am

Waldorf is fine for elementary school. They are correct to de-emphasize computers and encourage play.

That said, they teach kids that gnomes are watching them. And their science curriculum is medieval.

Would be a great alternative if they dropped the quasi-religious garbage.

AJinCobb

October 26th, 2011
8:58 am

I have a master’s degree in computer science and work in the field. When my child, now a high school senior, was younger, I was about the least concerned to get him “computer literate” of any parent I knew. I thought reading, writing, etc. were more important and computer exposure could wait, although around 5th/6th grade I forced him to learn to type properly. (I can’t believe all the hunt-and-pecking kids, in today’s keyboarding world).

Waldorf sounds a bit doctrinaire. I’m flexible and willing to acknowledge that technology has made inroads in the last few years. Kids using iPads doesn’t bother me, but I do still strongly believe that the basic skills of reading, etc. are what’s important at an early age, and technology exposure should be incidental or a means to an end, not a focus.

The phenomenon of babies in front of screens does bother me. I’m no infant development expert, but as an experienced parent, that doesn’t seem right.

student

October 26th, 2011
8:58 am

Personally, I know on days when the class went to the computer lab to work, all students were excited about that day’s lesson. Using technology at school is exciting. I don’t think every day should be “ok, pull out your ipad,” but on certain occasions it’s nice to integrate technology into lessons.

Once you’re in college, everything is on the computer. It’s no longer novel to be working digitally on something.

Tonya C.

October 26th, 2011
9:10 am

Ummmm, it is 2011. Whether we like it or not, technology is the wave of the future. those most versed in it will have the most options. I wholeheartedly disagree with this approach, because it isn’t well-rounded at all. We use technology in our home because it is fundamental to the future career paths our kids will take. Ever work with someone computer illiterate? It is maddening. But we also have crafts, board games, and books galore to supplement the parse public school education they are receiving. I detest extremes of any kind, and this is no better than the kids with cell phones and Ipads seemingly attached to their limbs.

Truth in Moderation:

You summed it up beautifully. Heck, even the Duggar kids are pretty-well computer versed!

Batgirl

October 26th, 2011
9:16 am

@jr, Thanks for your plug for school libraries. Studies have shown (although I cannot cite them off the top of my head) that students in schools with good libraries and certified librarians fare better on the almighty test, including the SAT, than those without them. Yet, I am in my third year without a budget even as my principal spent $5,500 on a 3D projector last year. And since our legislature voted to allow systems to spend designated library money as they saw fit, I doubt the schools in my system will ever have a budget again. (Gotta pay that lawyer in the central office!)

@dcb, 7:31 a.m., As long as there have been books and libraries, learning has not been restricted to the “memory and opinion bank” of the teacher.

Tony

October 26th, 2011
9:19 am

The biggest flaws with the push for increasing technology in schools in the manner it has been done are important considerations, but the truth is that the use of computers and other devices in classrooms must begin early. These devices are information sources and provide more access for students to materials that previously would not have been possible.

The flaws: First, too many schools/districts have thrown money willy-nilly at Promethean/SMART boards. These are high dollar items that have some impact on student engagement, but the cost of installing them in every classroom in a school is not justifiable. Along with these devices come the student interactive devices that can be useful for gauging students’ progress during a lesson, but too often have been misused by teachers and administrators.

Second, the teachers have not been given sufficient professional learning opportunities to accompany the roll-out of all these expensive devices. This leads to the use of $5,000 interactive systems in classrooms being used as nothing more than glorified chalkboards. Waste!

Third, our curriculum is still too focused on mundane and trivial matters. Not enough attention is placed on learning how to learn. Schools are forced to follow the prescribed lessons because that is what will be tested on the CRCT or EOCT. This narrowing of opportunities for true learning are robbing our kids of the preparation they need for the future. Technology will be at the center of every job opportunity.

Fourth, we still reject the idea of kids bringing their own technology to schools. Nearly every teenager I know has a phone that can access the Internet. Nearly every school district I know bans these devices from school. We are missing wonderful opportunities to use these tools for students to learn how to learn.

We can not put our heads in the sand with regard to technology, but we can’t buy five computers and a SMART board for every classroom without having an appropriate and effective plan for students to use these devices for learning.

V for Vendetta

October 26th, 2011
9:23 am

Truth and Tonya,

I completely agree. We live in a changing world, one in which technology (literally!) increases at an exponential rate. It is foolish to actively suppress the use of technology among young children or elementary-aged students. While I agree that giving children iPads is not and should not be an appropriate alternative to actual instruction, I think computer-enhanced lessons are relevant and increasingly necessary. I am often shocked by our resistance to changing methods of instruction. Public schools are already FAR behind the technology curve, something that can only hinder our students as they matriculate. (Also, considering the exponential increase in technology, they fall farther behind every year.) Private schools also struggle to keep up.

It really amounts to common sense. I try to supplement my children’s educational experiences with technology, but technology is not a replacement for books, instrcution, or exercise. As Tonya mentioned, we should be promoting a balance, not a one-sided approach in favor of either viewpoint.

ITP Papa

October 26th, 2011
9:25 am

My daughter attends The Heiskell School in Atlanta with the same non-tech methodology. Technology certainly has a place but not necessary early on to teach BASIC skills in a school. Moderation as they grow.

Check out the link. It’s a great website.

http://www.heiskell.net/

thomas

October 26th, 2011
9:28 am

Not putting in any technolgoy in schools without careful thought is just as bad as putting technology in schools without careful thought.

V for Vendetta

October 26th, 2011
9:29 am

Tony,

Excellent point: SMART boards are stupid and a complete waste of money. It isn’t how much technology a school packs into its walls; it’s how good and how up-to-date the tech is that matters. When my school was recently fitted with “new” computers, they were already at the bottom end of the tech curve. (For example: dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM was impressive . . . in 2006.) When many students in the school have more powerful laptops at home, how can we expect to keep up?

That being said, there is an enormous amount of cronyism and political corruption that interferes with the purchasing and installation of technology. Like many other aspects of education, this political back-and-forth negatively impacts students.

Inman Park Boy

October 26th, 2011
9:30 am

One thing all of us need to keep in mind is that most of the research that has shown the educational “benefits” of technology was funded by technology companies. Naturally, they stand to make the most when school boiards spend millions on gadgets. Our children’s imaginations are truly in jeopardy!

alm

October 26th, 2011
9:40 am

I took a tour and sat in on a class at Waldorf last year. There were many aspects of it that I liked but overall it was not a good fit for us.

Tonya C.

October 26th, 2011
9:44 am

V for Vendetta:

Good point. Public schools are already behind the times and with the basics. Gwinnett schools are not getting new textbooks, b/c they are supposed to go to e-nooks. The problem is nothing has been set in motion to get the e-books. I take cues from homeschoolers and do it myself. I can’t wiat for them to catch up.

Inman Park Boy:

My kids have UNRULY imaginations. We love gadgets, but my son and daughter BOTH love to draw, paint, and make things. Technology is not the reason imagination is not valued; parents and schools using these tools as babysitters are.

Tonya C.

October 26th, 2011
9:45 am

Please excuse my typos. Trying to type way too fast :)

Just A Teacher

October 26th, 2011
10:11 am

Using technology as a classroom tool is fine, but it should not take the place of learning how to read, write and do basic math. I should also add that getting new gadgets in the classroom can be a complete waste of time and money if the teacher isn’t taught how to use them. Our system just bought a bunch of high tech junk but eliminated teacher workdays where we could actually learn how to use it. The instruction we got was “Fool around with it until you figure out how it works.” I figured out it’s collecting dust while I go about teaching my students. Somehow or other, the school board found money to waste on this crap but are considering cutting days from the school calendar next year due to budgetary issues.

Special K

October 26th, 2011
10:46 am

Computer gadgets in classrooms = big contracts with the private sector = kickbacks for administrators

Whether technology helps students learn is irrelevant.

HS Public Teacher

October 26th, 2011
10:56 am

In my opinion, technology is an overpriceD crutch that has very little benefit to student learning…… IF that student is doing what they are supposed to do in a regular classroom with a teacher!

Another Math Teacher

October 26th, 2011
11:19 am

V for Vendetta:

“I try to supplement my children’s educational experiences with technology, but technology is not a replacement for books, instrcution, or exercise. ”

Actually, an iPad with an internet connection can replace a book. The course content can be created/updated at many levels (teacher, department, local, state, nationally.) If the kids don’t destroy the hardware it can be very much cheaper than buying books.

“Excellent point: SMART boards are stupid and a complete waste of money.”

Depends on the class. They are great for Math classes. They are a complete waste for business classes. (Some teachers used them to show powerpoint slide shows day after day.) Some teachers use them as projectors.

As a Math teacher I could go through many examples, go back to something a student missed, save the examples and put them on my website for students to look at later.

“It isn’t how much technology a school packs into its walls; it’s how good and how up-to-date the tech is that matters. When my school was recently fitted with “new” computers, they were already at the bottom end of the tech curve. (For example: dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM was impressive . . . in 2006.) When many students in the school have more powerful laptops at home, how can we expect to keep up?”

Completely wrong. What do schools really need in terms of computer usage? Teachers need email and access to web sites for grades. Simple word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software. What do students need? About the same as teachers. Name something that students _need_ that requires a high end computer. Bigger, better, faster sounds great to people, but in practice the student isn’t doing a ton of multi tasking. No matter what the students tell you, opening 3-4 sites for streaming music isn’t required to work.

V for Vendetta

October 26th, 2011
11:37 am

Another Math Teacher,

While I agree that a great deal of computing power is not necessary for generic classroom usage, there are many classes in high school–video broadcasting, video editing, music technology, technical drafting, web design, etc.–that require computers with significantly more power. However, many of these classes must make do with standard computers or slightly modified versions of standard computers. When the students who are interested in these types of classes have better access to technology at home, how can a teacher effectively meet their needs in the classroom. (I speak from experience: in addition to my Language Arts classes, I also teach Video Broadcasting. Our computers are well below the minimum spec required to run the editing software the county spent a fortune on; therefore, they often freeze, crash, and generally don’t run very well.)

I agree about the SMART boards for Math. I know many Math teachers that get a lot of use out of them; however, for nearly all other classes, they are pretty much useless.

Another Math Teacher

October 26th, 2011
12:07 pm

V for Vendetta :

“While I agree that a great deal of computing power is not necessary for generic classroom usage, there are many classes in high school–video broadcasting, video editing, music technology, technical drafting, web design, etc.–that require computers with significantly more power.”

You are talking about specialized labs, not the all purpose general labs used by the main student population. No need to get the latest technology in every class room because one lab needs better computers.

The classes you cite may run better with better machines, but they are not required. They are intro classes, the students are not professionals. It’s not like they are doing real time rendering of life like objects. Every class you cited would benefit from more memory, but processor power at that level is just not needed. I’ve taught the CTAE classes from Web Design to AP Computer Science with standard issue school lab computers. They were more than adequate for the task. The biggest problem I had was other teachers ‘borrowing’ my lab and letting their students destroy it while they watched movies. (How hard is it to make sure students do not eat or drink while standing over a computer?)

Specialized labs are great for those classes but they are a luxury. Some schools can not afford them and some schools have students that will destroy them.

“I agree about the SMART boards for Math. I know many Math teachers that get a lot of use out of them; however, for nearly all other classes, they are pretty much useless.”

And yet the Math department got theirs last. Central Office people are technological morons.

Mountain Man

October 26th, 2011
12:22 pm

The old saw will always hold true: “The best classroom is a log. Nothing else is needed if one end has a qualified teacher and the other a willing student.”

We are still trying to find that log that will seat 35 kids at the other end.

DeKalbite

October 26th, 2011
12:24 pm

I’m willing to bet those same Silicon Valley employees’ children have adequate access to technology at home, a situation all too many students in poor urban and rural school systems do not have. Word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation skills as well as how to access the Internet for valid information are practical and valuable skills that we can’t assume children will get in every home. Not all websites are created equal. Many students don’t have any idea that a website with peer reviewed articles or one published by a prestigious institute (e.g. National Institute of Health, etc.) would have more validity than a man sitting in his basement working on his website. Nor do they realize that an email to an employer should not have “i relly want to work for ur company”. They need to know how to write literate virtual world correspondence. The Digital Divide is alive and well in the U.S.

Children love technology, and it provides an engaging way to learn. Of course, students need to be fluent readers, writers, mathematicians, have a good understanding of the natural world, and learn about the interaction of history, economics, politics and geography. Technology used appropriately can enhance the critical thinking that is the point of mastering facts and can aid students by engaging them in mastering basic principals. For example, when my students played the stock market game, we did much of our research on the Internet and kept Excel graphs to track our results. We used the Internet and word processing to publish a school newspaper with opinion pieces (editorials), factual pieces (straight news) and human interest stories. They learned that editorials needed to express their opinions and have enough facts to sway readers, but straight news needs to contain just the facts, and it’s purpose is informative. Publishing this school newspaper required face to face interviews, research, analytical and evaluative skills, teamwork, artwork, etc. We visited the Atlanta Daily World to understand the importance of accuracy in reporting, etc. It was a great learning experience, but we had to rely on access to technology to implement it.

Teachers receive hand written work from students and strive to organize it. With technology, they can store it in a virtual location or receive it by email and generate time receipts, lessening thie workload and placing more responsibility on the students. What teacher would rather read a handwritten paper than a typed one? Who would rather take the time to collect work from 35 students per period and then have a parent say, “He swears he turned it in. You must have lost it.”? What teacher wouldn’t like to give students a 5 question five minute benchmark test on multiplication directly after the lesson and receive the results automatically graded at so that she knows who understood the material and who did not understand it for purposes of reteaching concepts and providing parent feedback? Technology can make students’ work (especially with large class sizes) much more manageable and provide infinitely greater and more timely feedback regarding student progress.

I’ve often thought the solution is to give teachers who genuinely want to use technology integration with their students abundant access to technology and let the ones who prefer to teach “old school” continue to do so. Not all teachers want to use technology integration. But I guess that would surrender too much control back to the classroom teacher. We live in a world where we continue to believe that one sze fits all. This argument about educational technology is an attempt by those who set policy to set it for the masses without respect to the various teaching styles of teachers.

APS GRAD & Parent

October 26th, 2011
12:27 pm

I wish Georgia would adopt this policy. Race to the Top funds could be used as a pilot in elementary schools. Watch the reading, comprehension and math scores rise.

Another Math Teacher

October 26th, 2011
12:38 pm

DeKalbite :

“What teacher wouldn’t like to give students a 5 question five minute benchmark test on multiplication directly after the lesson and receive the results automatically graded at so that she knows who understood the material and who did not understand it for purposes of reteaching concepts and providing parent feedback? ”

I’ve already done that. Went over the most missed questions that same period. Made them take it again. Took them to 90%+ in one class. They get competitive when they can keep trying.

“He swears he turned it in. You must have lost it.”

I love showing them that their kid didn’t log in for two days and the parent turning to the kid…’See, what ha-had happened was…’

Shar

October 26th, 2011
12:56 pm

Seems to me that this is an emminently testable issue, and that putting tests in place before spending millions on technology would be a responsible approach.

My youngest daughter went to a preschool that emphasized hands-on learning through play-based “projects”. It was wonderful for four year olds, and is probably great while the teaching focus in on skills rather than content, but the class had twenty children and two teachers, with volunteer aides available. Every kid could have their ‘work’ exclaimed over, explained and built upon, not unlike the “log” referred to in previous posts. This kind of attention is not possible in public classrooms, and the huge ability range, which only broadens with grade advancement, would make for a chaotic sea of differentiation.

Technology may work to help teachers reach students at their skill level, to facillitate repetition or expansion of lessons and, crucially, to bring computer literacy to those who do not have it at home and who must have it to succeed, whether academically or professionally. It would certainly make sense to test it before massive investments (and, perhaps, payoffs?) are made.

On a different topic, did anyone go to Nancy Meister’s meeting at North Atlanta last night regarding SPLOST? There was a conflicting meeting on the Clifton Corridor transit proposal and I couldn’t attend.

Oh, and regarding Heiskell: I looked at the school when I was deciding whether to keep my son in public school. When I heard them say that evolution was a theory and not sufficiently established to teach in their classrooms, I left. I checked their website just now, and they do not mention their science curriculum at all. I would be suspicious that they shun technology in the classroom because it would bring competitive ideas in with it.

@ Special K (10:46 am)

October 26th, 2011
1:14 pm

You are absolutely correct.

That’s exactly how it works here in APS. You don’t get to first base if you don’t pad pockets. This is common practice between several of our board members and upper level administrators in their working relationship between hardware and software vendors.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there; it is especially true for our building construction contracts. The lowest and “best” (kick back) bid wins every time! It’s the APS way.

The Inside Scoop
3rd floor,
130 Trinity Ave.

MannyT

October 26th, 2011
1:53 pm

I agree that technology is a tool. Along those lines, if your mentors/teachers are good with the tool, they can probably teach you well with them. Otherwise, they slow down the learning process. When there are large groups of students, tools that allow the teacher to show concepts in multiple ways can be useful. Teachers need to draw on tools/tech they are comfortable using.

Most opportunities of the future use more technology that similar jobs did in the past. Elementary education does not require technology. By the time students get to high school, it is critical that they understand how to use tools to make them more productive. Otherwise you probably need to make your living as an artisan. Unfortunately, there is little training for artisans (or tradespeople) in the current school structure.

David Sims

October 26th, 2011
2:22 pm

Waldorf School is right. It’s easy to understand why they are right.

If you’re in an algebra class, then you’re supposed to be learning, among other things, how to solve systems of simultaneous equations for the values of the unknowns. You have to learn how to eliminate the unknowns with algebra, one by one, until you have only one unknown left, expressed in terms of quantities whose values you already know.

Once you know the value of that first, previously unknown, quantity, you use it to find the value of the next, previously unknown, quantity. You go on like that until you know the values of all of the previously unknown quantities.

You can, of course, type the system of equations into an advanced calculator and let the calculator do the work and spit out all the values. But if your school teaches that method, then it is only teaching how to use a calculator. It isn’t teaching algebra.

Janet

October 26th, 2011
2:38 pm

Anyone ever worry about what all of this dependence on technology will do to the electricity grid? NY and California already have rolling blackouts for no other reason other than it’s summer. From a utility standpoint, I wonder if the country is really ready to do away with books, pencils, and paper. From a cultural/educational standpoint, what would we do if the electrical grid crashed?

Dekalbit@MannyT

October 26th, 2011
3:19 pm

“I agree that technology is a tool. Along those lines, if your mentors/teachers are good with the tool, they can probably teach you well with them. ….. Elementary education does not require technology”

Education today does not “require” technology. However, it’s an extremely useful and engaging tool for students – at any grade level, and it can increase teacher productivity and decrease paperwork for teachers.

There are many very good teachers who do not want to use technology, and that needs to be respected. There are an equal number of teachers who really want to use technology in their classes. This is not an either/or situation. I know teachers who follow and use the textbook religiously. Other teachers go by the curriculum and use the textbook sparingly as a mere reference.

Content mastery is the most important goal in educating students. Smart school systems would understand that there are many ways teachers can take to reach that goal, and mandating the use or non-use of technology is futile.

Technology is not just for productivity. For example, the goal of this AJC blog “Get Schooled” is not to make Maureen more productive. It is a forum for opinions and and a way to connect with more readers and gain more advertisers/revenue for the newspaper. I’m sure there are many AJC “old timers” who are good investigative reporters and excellent journalists who decry this blog as providing a platform for the wailing of the masses. That’s fine. Don’t give them blogs to moderate.

The same concept applies to teachers. Give the technology to those teachers who want to and will effectively use it. If it proves to be a superior tool, gradually other teachers will adopt this tool.

Archie@Arkham Asylum

October 26th, 2011
5:09 pm

Any kind of instructional media whether computers, television, or whatever, is essentially neutral. It is the nature of the content and how the media is used that makes it a tool or just another “gimmick” to humor apathetic students. I am old enough to remember when television was new and the nicknames from detractors that went with it like; “idiot box,” “plug-in drug” and “boob tube.” I had a paraprofessional in South Georgia that had a TV set in every room of her mobile home and a little battery operated one in her Blazer to use at stop lights. It was safe to say that TV consumed a large part of her day. The same thing now seems to be happening with computers, in some cases bordering on obsession. (The new “plug-in drug?) I can’t say for elementary schools but I have experienced middle and high school students who were actually more computer savvy than the teachers (which at times was kind of scary!). By the way, I am a novice Waldorf/Steiner adult student. If I encounter any gnomes, I will be sure to post it on this blog!

DC

October 26th, 2011
5:14 pm

I think there is a line to cross in terms of education versus entertainment. Just as you can learn a lot by watching a documentary you can also waste away in front of “Jersey Shore”.
I run an app review website (appsforkid.com) and am amazed by the new level of interactive learning that can be achieved.
There are definitely limits, but I think this is a paranoia thing than a what do these kids actually learn thing.
There is no substitute for playing outside – but learning with new tools in schools has been around since the Macintosh, and since Guttenburg before that…