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Geeks Prefer Books and Chalk
November 7, 2011
Patience, and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.
-Chinese Proverb
"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 surprising assertion appeared in an October 22 New York Times article, "A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute."

The school, which enrolls children of parents from Google, Apple, Yahoo, ebay, and Hewlett-Packard, 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....  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."

Here is the viewpoint of a typical parent, Alan Eagle, an executive at Google:

"I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school....  The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”  And asking, "What's the rush to learn technology in schools," Eagle observes, “It’s super easy.  It’s like learning to use toothpaste.  At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible.  There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”

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Comments (10)

Displaying 5 of 10 Comments   [ View all ]
Deborah · December 20, 2011
Teach Preschool
Noblesville, 24, United States

The fact that these folks are from "the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix." says a great deal in itself.

The reality is that these parents have ample access to technology at home as well as a high level of skills in technology. This means they can introduce technology easily at home and at their leisure. This is a representation of a small percentage of the population that has the resources and means for the latest and greatest in technology.

The majority of families out there to not have these advantages at home so I am not so sure these folks represent what is best regarding the use of technology in education.

Edna Ranck · November 09, 2011
Washington, DC, United States

Wow! This is a BIG EED and needs an article in Exchange to expand on its valuable content. Please recruit an article very soon and why to delay IT!

Kathy · November 08, 2011
United States

Can I use this in a newsletter? Do I need any permissions to use it?

srt · November 07, 2011
United States

So happy to see this article! Always disappointed when I see misplaced emphasis on technology in early childhood. Bodies and brains develop together as children grow- what we do with our bodies affects our brain development, and our brain development affects what we do with our bodies... Young children need REAL experiences, not "virtual" experiences. Children in families who can't afford computers are not losing out because of a lack of computer experience. They need rich educational environments that encourage socializing, exploring the world around them, and real-life opportunities for problem-solving. Teachers should be providing such experiences for children by giving them authentic opportunities to interact, problem-solve, and explore the world using their whole bodies, all five senses, (and each other!) rather than believing that virtual experiences will have the same benefit (they don't come close).

Natalye Delegal · November 07, 2011
Nat's Day Care
Philadelphia, PA, United States

I am in total agreement that young children do not need computers in daycare and schools. When a child is on the computer not only are they not interacting with the others, but the remaining children are just standing and looking at the screen using occasional input. It is difficult to tell parents that their child get great joy from doing a hands-on project that also teaches them letters and math. The other children can also help and it becomes a group project, which I feel initiates collaboration and problem solving.

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