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11/07/2011

Geeks Prefer Books and Chalk

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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