Ohio

Eye on Education

Some Ohio Schools Say Computers Don’t Belong in Classrooms

Technology is playing an increasingly prominent role in America’s schools. These days, computer games teach math skills and lectures are given at home via YouTube while class time is reserved for practicing the material, in what has become known as a flipped classroom.

Digital Learning Now, a national group advocating for technology in schools, says Ohio is leading the nation “in transforming education for the digital age.”

But not everyone thinks laptops belong in the classroom. Some Ohio schools are deliberately shunning technology.

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

These kindergarteners at Spring Garden Waldorf School sing while baking bread. They do not use computers in class at all.

Pulling up to Spring Garden Waldorf School in Copley, just North of Akron, it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t a normal school. For one thing, the building sits on 12 acres of wooded land. It feels much more like a summer camp than it does an elementary school.

Once inside the building, things look a bit more traditional. Soggy boots line the hallways. Apples decorate classroom doors. But something seems to be missing. There are “no TV’s, no computers.”

Amy Hecky’s kids go to school here, and she also works as the marketing and admissions director.

Where most schools these days have a computer room, Spring Garden has a wood working shop. There are no photoshop lessons, but there is an arts and crafts room and lots of music, without the help of Apple’s Garage band.

There are no computers, no tablets, no smart boards.

There’s another Waldorf School in Cincinnati, and a day care program in Columbus.

They’re all strictly anti-technology.

It’s not allowed in the school, and even discouraged at home.

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact: Ohio

Amy Hecky says technology isn't appropriate in the classroom until kids approach the high school years.

Amy Hecky says that she wasn’t always against technology.

“My kids were watching Sesame Street so I could make dinner. We were a typical American family with my kids in front of the TV easily 2 hours a day,” she recalls.

When her kids became school age, she visited the nearby public school, and “the first room they showed me was the computer lab and it was a string of computers all facing the outside wall of the classroom and immediately I knew that wasn’t it for us as a family.”

Hecky says it’s not that Waldorf schools oppose all technology.

“It’s just the right tool at the right time,” she says.”In these first 12 or 13 years of their life it’s not what’s best for them.”

She says students don’t need to be taught how to use computers. They’re machines built to be intuitive, after all.

Just south of Mansfield, a public school takes a similar approach.

Clear Fork Valley Local principal Roger Knight says he gets “sick and tired of hearing about technology.”

Clear Fork Valley Local is rated as one of the top schools in the nation. His school does not completely shun technology, they do have a computer lab. But it’s not a major focus.

He says in tough economic times, it’s more important to invest in good teachers than flashy iPads.

“Technology is a tool. My automobile is a tool. I could drive a Chevy or a Cadillac, it’s a tool, and I want those tools in the hands of my teachers. I don’t care if a kid ever sees a computer.”

-Roger Knight, principal at Clear Fork Valley Local.

“Technology is a tool. My automobile is a tool. I could drive a Chevy or a Cadillac, it’s a tool, and I want those tools in the hands of my teachers. I don’t care if a kid ever sees a computer.”

The philosophy of these schools collides with a major focus of state education policy. Technology is a key element of Ohio’s curriculum.

This year Governor John Kasich launched the Digital Learning Task Force. The group of education officials is spending the year travelling the state and putting together a list of recommendations about technology in schools.

There’s also e-Tech Ohio, a department dedicated to ensuring students statewide have access to technology. It’s also a funding source for public broadcasting.

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

E-Tech Ohio's Executive Director Kate Harkin says technology is here to stay, and can be a great tool for many teachers.

E-Tech Ohio’s Executive Director, Kate Harkin, says it’s not about technology versus no technology, or replacing teachers with computers.

In fact, she says, “technology will never replace a committed teacher. The role of the learner and the educator is a very special one and I don’t think that will be replaced by technology. I do think technology will help supplement that.”

Technology does have its benefits, says Harkin. Like watching Martin Luther King Jr. give a speech instead of reading a transcript, or checking out documents on the web that were previously only available in the Library of Congress.

“Who doesn’t want that? Immediate access to the information that’s of utmost importance to me. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.”

Plus, she says, let’s face it. Technology is here to stay.

“If you walk onto a college campus, a new job, or anywhere else, if you don’t have those skills you are left behind,” says Harkin.

Back at the Waldorf schools, students aren’t left behind. Teachers allow computer use and encourage things like Google searches, but not until the kids are approaching high school.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/schinker John Schinker

    We’re at the point where information is no longer valuable. We have fast, easy access to information. What really matters is our ability to critically assess the source of that information, to make connections among the ideas and perspectives of different people, and to build on the knowledge and work of others to create something new and original.

    It’s strange to me that these schools feel so threatened by technology that they’re banning it.

    Our students are living in a very different world from the one that traditional schools prepared their parents and grandparents for. They need to collaborate on a global scale to find innovative solutions to very challenging problems. We’re facing unprecedented challenges as we continue to exhaust our energy supply, fail to take care of the environment, and ignore the health care and retirement needs of the aging baby boomers. Our students will need outstanding communication, critical and innovative thinking, and collaboration skills to meet these challenges.

    Technology is one way to help address these needs. There are many valuable, effective ways it’s being used in K-12 education today. To say that it’s inappropriate for students to use technology in elementary school is analogous to withholding books until they can read, or pencils until they can write.

    • Pj_b

      Technology is not the “be all and the end all” – it’s is more important to build skills, communication, & initiative then introduce technology – most children now have access to computers at home & use games on the computer & game systems before they ever get to school, but it is crucial to build communication & language skills with other children the old fashioned way establishing human connections – technology is just 1 tool

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

        Actually, most children do not have computer access at home, only those not in low income families and neighborhoods are likely to have daily, home access to computers. It’s desperately necessary for them to learn these skills if they hope to break out of the low income bracket.

        • Adamdlacanian

          I live and teach 2 miles from Juarez Mexico where 80% of the students are on free or reduced lunch–however, all of my students have computers at home and only some of them do not have internet access. All of them are very familiar with computers because they are always around them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

            That’s a very unusual spot then. In Flint, Michigan where I was raised, a recent study showed only 1 in 10 kids had access to a computer at home. The study further showed that of those that had a computer, only 1 in 5 had internet access and only 1 in 8 were using a computer less than 7 years old. Now, every area is different, but from other studies I’ve seen Flint is much closer to the norm for low income families than what you’re asserting.

          • Adamdlacanian

            Why does a child under 7 need to use a computer? Don’t we have many generations of innovators that never used a computer? I don’t know how old you are, but I am only 30, and I remember a time when my parents did not have a computer until I was about 13 (at this time the school mentioned in the article would be incorporating computers) and I learned to program on my own while the internet was in its infancy. Most of this early exposure was at a friends house on my block. The majority of people I have encountered over the age of 40 learned a great deal about how to use a computer late in life and adapted very well in a short period of time. My central argument to you is that even the kids without computers at home can learn these basic skills in adolescence very quickly and we should not let fear get in the way of recognizing the seductive and powerful yet deleterious qualities of these technologies that distract and condition students for short-burst transactional thinking (rather than sustained critical thinking and reading) and conditioning them to respond only to high stimulus images and sound which will not be their experience in college at all. Forget the statistics you’ve recently read and consider our reality, our cell phone and Facebook addictions (myself included), and seriously re-evaluate your position. None of us know what the next generation of learners will become in our workforce–yet.

          • Panthyr

            Yay reading comprehension. Look at the clause “computer less than 7 years old.” Getting the picture?

          • Wanderwoman2000

            I sincerely hope you are lying about being a teacher, given that you can’t comprehend a very clearly expressed thought.

          • http://twitter.com/SenneLinda Linda Senne

            I would guess that is because people in Flint, MI are likely WORKING hard to try to get by, and that is all they can afford, unlike the leaches that grab every goverment hand-out that they can, while having nicer stuff than most people I know :(

          • Joey S.

            No one enjoys being on welfare, and Flint has a 10.6% unemployment while the national average is 8.6% now. Show me all of these people getting handouts that have nicer things than the people you know.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ross-Patton/682129211 Ross Patton

            The people you know are probably too proud to shop second hand.

            I love how people bring up having electronics as a sign of wealth. Yeah maybe, if you buy new. You can get used computers and big screen TVs at second hand stores for as low as 20 bucks (at least at the salvation army near my apt). Hardly rich person stuff.

            And considering that more and more companies have moved entirely to online applications, I hope for their sake that they have these things and I’m proud if my tax dollars helped even one person get a computer who didn’t have one before.

            The whole welfare queen thing is a myth. It’s extremely rare here in reality. I have been on unemployment before (for a grand total of 2 months) and it’s not fun.

          • http://twitter.com/SenneLinda Linda Senne

            I love how these people can afford computers in the home, and internet access, yet “need” free and reduced lunch for their children.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lambritt Brit Lambear

            This coming from the teacher who plagiarized… your opinion matters not. You are probably a “test teacher”.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jan-VanKley/100000025967482 Jan VanKley

            Parents in our district are expected to have access to electronic means either at home, work, or the library to follow their children’s progress. The state of Indiana only posts ISTEP results online. I delight in watching my students dig into a topic on the internet as they refine their search skills. In our area, Comcast offers a very low rate for internet access and a computer for $150 if a family has kids on free or reduced lunch. How can we expect people dig their way out of poverty if they don’t have the same access to information as the middle class?

          • Funneme

            “these people”? could you be more specific please?

          • Funneme

            though I did note in the photo of the children, diversity is not really in that classroom.

          • NotALLpoorPEOPLEareScammers

            A $400 notebook and $10 a month dial up is a far cry from what it costs to feed a family. It seems like everytime a poor family has ANYTHING other then raggy clothes and dirt floors, somehow they are gaming the system. Computer access has become an expectation of society–for education and for employment–or even SEEKING employment in much same way has having a phone has been for decades.

    • http://twitter.com/SenneLinda Linda Senne

      We are exhausting our energy supply and destrpying the environment with technology. We would not need “innovative solutions” to “challanging problems” (God, I hate “corporate speak”) if it was not for all of the technology that ALLOWS us to destroy our earth and environment.

      • Adamdlacanian

        Not only did you embarrass yourself in your reply to me earlier by not reading carefully and misunderstanding what side I was truly on, but now you have revealed yourself as a racist that is perfectly willing to make blanket statements about our border region when it is obvious you have never lived or worked here. Your folly in logic also reveals that you (through your racism) failed to realize that these families are sacrificing what little they have to provide for their children. The reduced/free lunch is based upon income–not welfare. You are a truly ignorant and sad example for children everywhere.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lambritt Brit Lambear

          And she even claims to be an educator. Makes me sick.

    • media exec turned mom

      I am so glad to see this issue coming to a national conversation. John your point that “Our students will need outstanding communication, critical and innovative thinking, and collaboration skills to meet these challenges” is an excellent one. Technology is a great tool to help society do this, but first kids need to develop everything you mention in that sentence. Bloating our school budgets with technology that is evolving so rapidly that it becomes obsolete in the the time it takes to travel from the warehouse to the classroom is just creating an unsustainable “educational” industrial complex. I’ve worked for two decades in electronic media. A graphic designer I once worked with had a great poster in her office of a desktop PC with the caption “This is not an artist.” Hear, hear! Nor is it a teacher. It’s not about being threatened by technology. It’s about understanding how child development works, what actually cultivates critical thinking and creativity (and what impedes it), and when it is appropriate to introduce the tools and resources our adult society depends on. Putting every first-grader behind the wheel of a car is not going to create a world of excellent adult drivers. But boy the auto industry would like that!

  • Odadzink

    In my experience with Waldorf schools it is where students develop outstanding communication, critical and innovative thinking, and collaboration skills. A place where attention is given to their development levels so learning can take place. A place where a child or adolescent can aspire to be better, create with the skills he or she has learned, and appreciate their own work and that of others,be it student’s or teachers or mentors.

    • Ajsh

      …all of which are things that can, and should, be nurtured at home.

      • Caelidh

        The same could be said of Computers..
        the thing is.. kids do NOT get creative development education at home.. that is the problem.. Parents freak out thinking their kid will be far behind if you don’t sit them in a chair 6 hours a day and force feed them information. A full education is NOT just about facts.. it is about using your brain creatively.. and critically.. things you do NOT fully get from a computer.. Learning is a multidimensional activity.. You NEED to get kids out into nature. YOU NEED to have them paint and do music and sing and have creative movement and do all sorts of things.. THe goal is to have a balanced brain.. left and right hemispheres.. (analytical and creative sides) in BALANCE.. we are doing a kids a MAJOR disservice by focusing ONLY on Math and science (which are important.. don’t get me wrong) but so is music, art.. etc… they develop different areas of the brain. .Look at the research that has been done!.. and this should ALL be taught in schools!! or what is the point???

        • Adamdlacanian

          You know, you are right. I should have including the fact that I am an English teacher and am speaking from the position of an English teacher–one concerned primarily with instilling the skills necessary to read and interpret text that has layered meaning (something not found in the vast majority of digital literacies). However, I am a strong proponent of computer science classes. I do not think computers are necessarily useful for every subject. Learning Microsoft Office [Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.] can take place in a computer class, but the navigation and operation of existing software is not enough and it is a total joke if that is what we mean when we say ‘technology in the classroom.’ Computer programming is not done in schools at all–with the exception of Computer Science, which is taught to seniors exclusively. This is why our country is falling so far behind technologically innovative countries like Japan; we consider the basic office skills like typing and spreadsheets to be valid forms of technology in education. BALANCE is key–I agree. But don’t EVER push technology on an English teacher because Smart boards and the like are destroying our students’ capacity for sustained-silent-reading and the difficult but rewarding process of interpreting a text.

          • Adamdlacanian

            “included”–sorry about the typos. This is a topic I am passionate about and my passion caused me to make a few mistakes.

      • Adamdlacanian

        The apt word there is “should.” Let us not fantasize anymore about what “should” take place at home and just come to accept that teachers will always be parental supplements–whether we believe it is right or wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

      All those things can be done with the incorporation of technology that is necessary in today’s world. They are not mutually exclusive, it only takes proper application of the technology.

      • Adamdlacanian

        …which is why the school includes technology at the appropriate age.

    • stephs

      As a high school English teacher in a private school, I have several students who attended Waldorf schools for grades K-8. These Waldorf alumni are some of the most poorly prepared students that I have ever taught. These students have little to no skills in problem solving, collaboration or communicating their ideas in writing. These students spent a great deal of time “being creative” and very little time learning to apply their learning in the real world. As for the technology, students with a wide variety of learning disabilities use laptops and iPads from a very young age to help them demonstrate their learning in alternative formats. The anti technology attitude seems elitist, particularly given the lack of research on the topic.

  • rocky lewis

    I think it’s a matter of what else an elementary school child could be doing instead of sitting in the computer lab and clicking on appropriate alphabet letters, while their teacher gets to sit down and enjoy 30 minutes of quiet time. I would rather my son learn a skill at age seven that is not redundant to something available from CartoonNetwork.com, but instead uses his brain in creative and challenging ways. I’d rather he learn/reinforce the alphabet, in that 30 minutes, through interaction with the teacher or his peers through story telling or handwriting or reading a book out loud.

    When he’s twelve, yes, let’s sit down and show him algebra formulas in Excel. But wouldn’t it be great, if when he sat down at the computer at that moment, he remembered how useful mathematics skills were in his elementary woodworking class?

    • Zevensphin

      Using computers in the classroom or taking students to use a computer lab is NOT “30 minutes of quiet time for the teacher.” Far from it, in fact. Regular learning plus teaching and guiding students to use the technology tools in front of them efficiently and responsibly is quite a bit more than “quiet time.”

    • Everyman

      …skills that would’ve been redundant had he a computer to use? Ridiculous. At 41, there isn’t a single thing I’ve taken with me from any school into this technology age, outside of English and grammar skills, which I freely admit are severely lacking in today’s youth.

      • Adamdlacanian

        …which is precisely why English teachers do not want more technology in the classroom. It has been proven already that vocabulary and grammar/spelling are best improved through sustained individual readings. That does not happen in a class that wants to accommodate waning attention spans with flashy images and sound.

      • Polydiva03

        That is exactly why Waldorf education is different and effective. I am a Plastics Engineer and work for a fortune 500 chemical company, I believe in Waldorf philosophy and methods of teaching strongly and believe this way of teaching develops more brilliance in a child than anyone outside of a Waldorf community can imagine. They learn to use their hands, minds, and hearts and become great scientists, chefs, architects and engineers, musicians, business owners, and teachers…who know how to do build things from scratch, learn the value of taking something from the basics to a masterpeice. The right tool at the right time is crucial. Baby steps.

        My son is in first grade at Spring Garden, he is learning German and Spanish, probably 50 words each since the school year began…he does not need Rosetta Stone for this, but two fabulous language teachers. The children and teachers at the school are brilliant! They are creative, innovative, talented, balanced individuals.

        We still watch movies and shows together at home, my son is aware of facebook and googling information. If mom doesnt know the answer to something, we will look it up together. It’s all about balance and moderation…our whole lives are about finding balance in our lives. My son starts the day at school with a nature walk. That’s where we find balance…getting back to basics, enjoying the God given gifts. I see no need to teach computers in grade school. By the time they are ready for it, in high school and college, the technology will be completely obolete…its constantly evolving. Think of the corruption and filth on the web and in the media. I want to keep my child innocent as long as possible and avoid thereapy in his adult years. Our children will be just fine.

        • http://www.robotvsrobot.com Jon K.

          You said it yourself though, the teachers are brilliant, creative, talented, innovative… that has nothing to do with technology. You could add brilliant, creative, talented and innovative teachers to a technology filled room, and come up with the same results.

          Your idea that technology will be obsolete is finding fault with the wrong thing. Chalk was once the pinnacle of instructional technology, now is it “obsolete”? Hardly. A talented teacher can do wonders with chalk, pen, paper, computers.

    • Sacutting

      The problem is not technology in the schools, the problem is that most teachers do not know how to use the technology to be effective teachers and incorporate new technologies into their curriculum. I spent the last decade of a 30 year public school teaching career as primarily a teacher-technology-curriculum instructor, and many teachers (not all) have a poor grasp of technology, and are reluctant to improve their own skills, so how can they be effective teachers using technology in their classrooms. Some become great technology users/teachers, but many struggle. Hopefully, as the new generation of teachers comes into classrooms, they will bring their knowledge and computer-friendly attitudes to bear on their students, and technology can become the boon that it should be, and not the “feared thing” that it sometimes is in schools.

  • http://twitter.com/sagerock Sage Lewis

    I am a parent of a student that goes to Spring Garden Waldorf School. I also run a Digital Marketing agency. You would be hard pressed to out do the amount of technology that surrounds my life. I am a person that would sign up for the chip implant in the brain.

    But I fully support this school.

    We were just in Chicago staying with a Immanuel Kant philosophy scholar, PhD. He and our first grader were working on their German together.

    Our kid thinks for himself and is comfortable talking with adults in an adult fashion.

    His favorite thing about school: Spanish.

    My niece’s favorite thing about her (public) school: Going home.

    There’s plenty to learn at this young age. Waldorf was the right choice for our kid.

    • Skeezix Chaco

      Ok, you’ve convinced me. I just worry about the new Dark Ages. Where I live, people literally think TV, telephone & computers are “demonic.” I’m not kidding. If the school is a satisfying and enriching place kids love and in which they excel, that’s awesome. I’m pretty geeky, but no chips in the head, please! LOL

    • Jill_romine

      I barely survived public school.
      My daughter goes to Heart to Hand Waldorf school in Reno NV. At 3, she can skype with Grandparents and figure out the easier buttons on my smart phone. She gets enough tech at home she doesnt need or want it at school. I am not at all worried she wont pick up tech skills when they are needed.
      Gen X didnt even get the internet until high school. We are all ok.

      • Sage

        I feel the same as you. I am actually writing this on my Waldorf student’s tablet. He is extremely interested videography. I don’t think schools are offering anything interesting in computer education. I actually don’t think colleges are either.

        I feel you might as well leave it out.

        Low income families are a more complicated issue. However, I grew up quite poor. But I still had a computer in my house growing up.

    • Melanie

      I am an iOS developer and my children attended Waldorf schools. They r beautiful

  • Safirah

    I admire the school’s tenacity, but we have to wonder how these students will adapt into mainstream society when they graduate. I can tell you right now that this model would not survive in urban high schools.

    • Adamdlacanian

      Are you kidding me? Do you actually think these kids are unaware of how to use a computer because they are unavailable at school? This is truly a fantasy on your part.

    • Jill_romine

      The approach is much different in Waldorf high schools. The curricum is much more challanging than you would find in public schools. They do use tech and they are successful in an urban setting.

    • Seattle Girl

      If you go to the website http://www.sgws.org and click on About Us, and then click on Alumni, you will see how the graduates of the school have “adapted into mainstream society”.

  • empty

    well the world will always need janitors, I guess this is where they will come from. Oh wait, the janitors at my work have to clock in on a computer. Hmmm…

    • Adamdlacanian

      This is a rather ignorant statement.

      • Ben

        I think it makes a rather good point. Even positions one might not expect to, still need to be at least somewhat tech-savy. I wouldn’t be surprised if my mother wouldn’t be able to figure out how to clock in on a computer. Guess what; She didn’t have computers in her school.

        • Adamdlacanian

          Sure, but what bugs me is that people keep ignoring the fact that this school incorporates technology after the kids have reified their base level skills in reading and writing and communicating. Did everyone read this article or just read the title?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ross-Patton/682129211 Ross Patton

          Most people have computers at home. Most kids nowadays have phones at a crazy young age. Getting access to a computer is easier than ever, in fact it’s getting to the point where you can’t escape it.

          If I had kids I’d rather send them to a place where they can learn to solve problems creatively without the aid of technology, on their own. Where they’ll pick up another language, learn an instrument, and be far more articulate than other kids their age. Believe it or not, the solutions to a lot of pressing problems will not be found on Google.

          Computer skills don’t mean anything. It is easy to teach someone to use a computer. Creative thinking and critical thinking skills, those are far more important. I work in the design industry which is completely dominated by computers and I’ve seen time and again that concept and execution trumps ‘l33t photoshop skills’.

          Show me a great concept, and we can teach you software. It’s not hard.

          • Joey S.

            I agree that critical thinking is the most important skill we need to teach kids. With that being said, I think technology adds a great deal to enrichment and interactivity. I don’t think it should be used exclusively, but I think E-Readers in the classroom is a phenomenal, environmentally-friendly movement.

    • Seattle Girl

      Empty……..hmmmm……suitable…..

      The school has a website – sgws.org. Try doing some research before making your asinine comments. The students graduating from that school go on to college – even Harvard! – gasp! And they have careers in all different fields, from Computer Technology to Fashion Design.

      Seriously, what is wrong with some of you people?! Oh, wait….. you used computers when you were little!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rrmahoney Bobby Mahoney

    Some teachers don’t belong in schools.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

      And that has what to do with this article about tech use in schools?

  • L. Melander

    I work with the publisher hands-on inquiry-based K-5 science curriculum, and we are currently updating our curriculum to be offered digitally rather than in print.

    Hands-on learning is incredibly important for all learners and a canned digital experience is not better. But to suggest that those are the only two options is really inaccurate. Digital tools are simply tools like anything else, and are far more dynamic, if done right, than a text book, allowing students to build and track their own learning, their own voyages of discover, their own attempts to make meaning.

    What’s powerful about this Waldorf School is the kids’ engagement with their own learning. Done well, digital platforms can extend that learning.

    • Adamdlacanian

      This may be true for the sciences, but English and Literature are a much different story (no pun intended). The problem for English teachers is that students’ capacity for ‘sustained-silent-reading’ has been waning for some time. English teachers like myself cannot help but point the finger at the technologies that seem to be conditioning students to focus only on images and sound rather than text; and even the images and sound do not seem to hold their attention. The reading process is more than the vapid text messages and Facebook updates read on a day-to-day basis; it is a process that requires constant interpretation of text that is layered with meaning–something that simply does not exist anywhere else but in novels. A film may be layered with meaning and perhaps use writer’s conventions, but the process happening in the brain is much different. We (English teachers) should not be pressured to use more technology in the classroom when there are so many other appropriate/relevant areas for these technolgies to be used (math, science, and God forbid–a computer class). Which brings me to my final point–why limit students to the navigation and operation of existing software (PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) when they could be learning programing? No wonder we are behind other countries’ innovations.

      • L. Melander

        My doctorate is in the humanities, with an emphasis on narrative, imagination, and creativity, so I will respond from that standpoint…

        First, as something of an aside, I think that it’s interesting that your impression of digital education and learning reading/writing is “vapid text messages and Facebook updates.” If that’s what is passing for digital education in your district, then I completely understand your frustration with it!

        But I think a strong digital education program uses text (whatever its form — fiction or nonfiction) as a tool as well as multi-media experiences, regardless of the curriculum.

        In addition, though, digital learning can provide a cubist approach, if you will, to a topic it’s exploring — breaking it into a multitude of planes and concepts through different media. The value in this is that it can provide a myriad of ways for learners to step into making meaning with it. The challenge is, I believe, for educators to ensure that it also includes synthesis of that meaning.

        I think that your concern about not losing the intellectual discipline and capacity-building that happens when a learning is working the complexity of a narrative piece of writing vs. a visual medium is valid. But I don’t think that this needs to be lost in well-conceptualized digital learning experiences — I think it’s possible to have both. And I think that a broader array of learners can benefit because of the multiple entry points. As an example, digital learning is a natural habitat for working from Gardner’s ideas about lateral learning and multiple intelligences, especially because it can allow a student to choose many of the building blocks with which they learn best. It is then up to the teacher (and curriculum specialists, and curriculum providers — whomever is crafting the overall curriculum experiences and goals) to work not only to support the student’s reach towards what works well for them instinctively, but also to challenge them outside of their comfort zones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Faturos/823060453 Joe Faturos

    I’ll admit, at first glance, the title seems to hearken back to the dark ages but when I found they were simply keeping it away from little kids I wholeheartedly agree. Personally I build websites and sell over the internet and my family didn’t have a television until I was 17. I didn’t see a computer until I hit college but since I had learned problem-solving on other levels, I soon became proficient in many computer programs very quickly. I think that giving kids cellphones and access to computers gives them too many distractions. Hell, I didn’t even have a cellphone until my second year of college and I never really used it even then. Teaching kids to react to their environment by allowing their brains to build through other means will give them the chance to see the world at a different angle. My youngest brother was homeschooled his entire life, went to one year of college and now makes a quarter million dollars a year as an entrepreneur and owner of a business. The argument that kids need technology is invalid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

      Because you experience a non-typical example, your point is moot. The stats show most homeschooled kids are way behind their peers in nearly every area, socially, educationally, emotionally; and most have lower income jobs when compared with public or private school taught kids from the same neighborhood. Your brother is a rare example of someone making it work, but the majority need an real school with real teachers. Studies have also shown the earlier children are exposed to technology the more adept and advanced they are with it later in life. That might not of been true for you, but again, schools and programs must be designed for the majority, not the minority. I for one grew up in a tech household (one of first kids in school to have a computer, color monitor, internet access, etc.) and in high school and even college I was much further ahead with tech than most of my peers who did not have those advantages, and that’s with my school system having been very tech forward. Kids need technology because it is very, very difficult to succeed in today’s world without that knowledge and the earlier it’s gained, just like knowledge of math, language, etc., the better. And just like anything else, it needs to be used correctly and in the right amounts, in other words, it’s the application, not the existence that makes a difference.

      • Sage

        I wonder if you were more advanced because it was a priority in your home. It sounds like your school had these tools. But possibly your peers didn’t have them in their homes.

      • Seattle Girl

        Seriously? Please, if you are going to say “stats”, tell us WHERE these stats are. (?) Give us your references. Where are you getting your information?
        Homeschooled children are NOT way behind their peers in nearly every area. Not in ANY area! Of course, there will be some children who are homeschooled, who will be behind in some things. Just as there will be some children educated in the public school system who will be behind in some things. It depends on the child and their experience, their parents, their teachers, their environment. To make a broad, categorical statement as you did is ridiculous.
        The employees that I have had who were homeschooled are bright, funny, caring people. They are extremely social, creative, and have great critical thinking skills.

  • Nunya

    This Luddite stance is embarrassing and pathetic, nothing more than a dangerous combination of fear and nostalgia through the filter of the simple-minded. “It’s just the right tool at the right time,” she says.“In these first 12 or 13 years of their life it’s not what’s best for them.” Any ‘teacher’ capable of uttering something so incredibly shortsighted is everything wrong with this nation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ross-Patton/682129211 Ross Patton

      Really? There have been many studies that have shown that the most important thing for a developing brain is social interaction: with people. Kids need to solve problems on their own, in the real world instead of learning that they can just rely on a computer for everything.

      These kids are probably using computers are home just fine, they’re not hard to use or figure out. Most of these kids will go on to high school and whatever and be far more articulate and skilled than someone who just played math blasters or whatever through elementary school. They’ll be skilled musically, artistically, they’ll be articulate, they’ll probably pick up an extra language or two. The public school kids will get what? Wikipedia skills?

      • Adamdlacanian

        Thank you Ross. It’s nice to know we are not alone in this position. The fantasy of the tech solution to our problems with the American educational system is shoved down our throats in graduate school. When the fantasy collapses and everyone realizes that it did very little to educate students and prepare them for college, what will the proponents say? Whom will they find to blame then?

    • Adamdlacanian

      You are what’s wrong with this nation. Do the research regarding chemical rewards new technology is providing students, how the technology is conditioning their responses/reading and communication to be transacted in short bursts, and how the conditioning divides their thinking into too many tasks, limiting their efficacy for any of the tasks. Start with MIT Clinical Psychologist and PhD Sociologist Sherry Turkle. Don’t fall prey to the pedagogical rhetoric–it’s a lie.

    • Caelidh

      Waldorf education is NOT Luddite.
      I would suggest you actually do research!..

    • Seattle Girl

      The woman you are quoting is NOT a teacher. Re-read the article, and you will see she is the Admissions Director and her children attend the school.

      Please, share with us your background in child development. Is your degree in education? Or early childhood development? How many years have you been working with children?

      You should read the NY Times article about the Waldorf school in Silicon Valley, and how many executives in companies such as Google and Ebay send their children to the school. Do you consider these people Luddites?

      Your statements, quite frankly, were what is so incredibly shortsighted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=50300736 Shawn Hudson

    Seems like a fine idea. I teach English to a bunch of Korean elementary school kids, and it’s a safe bet to say that the classrooms here are some of the most advanced in the World. Still, it is the projects we do with our hands, or on the chalkboard, or simply through reforming the classroom and playing kinetic games that engage them the most. Kids have imaginations. Let that flourish, first. Videos, interacting with computers … it’s a drain on them. You can see the disconnection, the slumping in their seats. I agree that in High School and probably even in select Junior High classes, computers need to be used, but it’s a waste of money and time with the younger ones. My two cents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

      It’s a waste of time when used the way you use them. Learn proper application of the technology, incorporate it into the other methods you use, and I think you might find that it is an amazingly useful tool, even for younger kids. Like anything else in the classroom, it just has to be applied correctly.

  • William Hooper

    Have to disagree strongly with the sentiment expressed. At age 10, at the dawn of the personal computer age, my family got a TRS-80. At the time we bought it, there wasn’t much of anything a child would want to do with it, as there were no games for it that weren’t terribly expensive.

    But they were amazingly easy to program.

    The salesman knew enough to show me the simplest code to understand that I’ve ever seen.

    10 x=x+1
    20 print x
    30 goto 10

    It counted up and up and up until mathematical overflow occurred.
    From that point on, I was checking books out of the library to learn more about programming in BASIC. To write simple games, to create graphics. Technology ignited my imagination then, in a way that I don’t think it would have, had I stumbled across computers at a later stage in life.

    I had an enormous advantage over all of my college mates who were new to programming, and I had been writing code as a hobbyist for a good chunk of my life already.

    Computers should totally stay in the classroom, but make sure they have an *educational* purpose and not simply a *recreational* one!

    • Ash

      I want to understand “the simplest code”. I’m a teacher – please try to explain it to me. We got computers my senior year of HS and after one semester of trying to figure out the same kind of thing you wrote about, I gave up on trying to figure it out. I’d like to try again, these many years later? I wonder if I’d get it now?!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lambritt Brit Lambear

        It depends what you are wanting to make. Feel free to message me on facebook and I will be happy to help you. I will say though, that as an educator, there are so many great resources already made that your time is best spent making invigorating templates, etc. versus reinventing the wheel.

    • Adamdlacanian

      I agree with you sir. I posted something similar as a reply below. My complaint as an English teacher is that these technologies have had a deleterious effect on sustained silent reading, but I’m all for including technology in the appropriate subject. For instance, I argued that students really only learn how to simply navigate and operate existing software for the purposes of office work later in life. This is attuned to training monkeys to type. If we truly cared about teaching students technology, we would teach them how to program at an earlier age instead of only offering a computer science class their senior year. No wonder we are behind other innovative countries.

      • http://twitter.com/SenneLinda Linda Senne

        As a teacher though, do you have any idea how many students no longer do their own work due to technology? I have seen myself, and heard of many others who simply get their work (essays and papers especially) from free internet sharing sites? I myself have done this when overwhelmed and in a pinch, and nobody was any the wiser. This is very common. Why do all the tedious work if you can just copy and paste?

        • Adamdlacanian

          Linda, you really need to read more carefully. I have posted about a dozen replies in the last hour on this thread ALL supporting this school’s approach. I have written research papers on the negatives of technologies in schools and even in the above post I mentioned the “deleterious effects” of these technologies. I am simply acknowledging the importance of these technologies and calling the proponents on their b.s. by pointing out that most of this technological training is really a very superfluous training that solely prepares students for a low level office job rather than for silicon valley.

          • jjww

            Really? I was educated with state of the art technology through my 23 years of school and I’m willing to wager I live closer to Silicon Valley than you do. Keep writing those research papers though, everyone needs a hobby.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lambritt Brit Lambear

          If you are having this issue Linda Senne. I recommend taking a few moments to Google search the thesis statement in the paper. If it has an exact match, get them for plagiarism. It takes about 10 seconds per paper so maybe 15 minutes total for all your classes. It is very effective. If you feel this isn’t enough checking ask your school to purchase the program released by UVa that checks for plagiarism. As an educator, you should be ashamed that you plagiarised. How can you expect more from your students if you are as dishonorable yourself.

          As a teacher myself, I know that my students are invigorated by technology. It also allows me to make more authentic assessments for them as well as make sure that my students understand a concept versus just know the right answer.

          • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.wezeman Stephanie Kaye Wezeman

            I think the referent of “teacher” in Linda’s first sentence is Adamdlacanian – not herself. She’s asking him a question – not speaking of herself as the teacher.

            So, she’s a plagiarizing student, but not a plagiarizing educator. Chances are, she’s just a kid (high school or college).

    • Sage

      I had very similar childhood experience. And it influenced me to this day. However, I don’t believe schools, today or back then, create that kind of love. They aren’t teaching the beauty of code. It’s ridiculous spelling games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JTing01 Jonathan Ting

    I think that the role of the educator should no longer be that of a gatekeeper, but as a source of inspiration and excitement. At least those are my thoughts as a student again. However, the deprivation of technology may be a good thing for kids. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to think critically and discourse reasonably, but I think learning that there are worlds and points of view beyond your own and the magical box in front of you is best done at a young age.

    Information is so easily retrievable now, I can look up anything at anytime where I live. No one is going to have to teach these kids how to do that. Teaching them the liberal arts is where it’s at if we’re going to have really exceptional children. Teach them to listen and to watch, to think and to discourse as equals. Teach them the value of life and the joy of learning for learning’s sake.

    Educators are no longer the sole sources of knowledge for kids, odds are wikipedia is more accurate and it is guaranteed to be more voluminous in its resources. So, I think these school have the right idea in giving these kids this environment where rote recitation of information is not the goal but is instead the act of learning itself.

    • Adamdlacanian

      I could not agree more–well said sir.

  • Laioren

    Track the success of the students that go to her class. My guess is that they will all under perform in salary and consistency of employment as they get older. The quote, “She says students don’t need to be taught how to use computers. They’re machines built to be intuitive, after all,” is the single most ignorant and dangerously wrong assessment I have heard outside overtly religious or political rhetoric. It is in every facet exactly equal to saying, “She says that students don’t need to be taught how to speak or use language. Communication is built to be intuitive, after all.”

    Limiting any experience is the opposite of teaching.

    • Adamdlacanian

      We also do not know yet if the technology craze is working to prepare students for the university; in fact, I would argue that the reduced amount of required reading of text is having a deleterious effect on the students’ ability to remain focused because the difficult act of reading for sustained periods is being replaced with flashy images and sound on various digital simulacra.

    • Caelidh

      I say you are wrong..

      My friends kid went to Waldorf and she is extremely intelligent and creative!…

      And anyway.. how are you defining “Under performing in salary”.. So.. the object of an education is to get a million dollar salary? REALLY.

      If everyone was meant to be a CEO they would be a CEO.. don’t be so narrow minded…

  • Lee

    I agree that Technology has become an enabler of not learning the basic and important life skills. Why should a child want to learn to do things the difficult (old) way, when the technology exists to do it for you. I am always amazed at how technology has come to rule our world and how living, as my generation knew it to be, just doesn’t exist. I am a teacher in a public school and I use technology to enhance some of my teaching, but it is not a focus for the students. As for the Waldorf school, my experience is they are more about the students feelings and diverse programs, but never a strong education system. Often times students end up back in public schools and well below grade level on important things such as reading. However this has little to do with technology or no technology and more to do with philosophy of the entire education process.

  • http://twitter.com/dlefevre23 dlefevre23

    This reflects a near-luddite mentality of the administrators of the schools, not what “is best” for children. Children can easily adjust to whatever tools are given to them. These are the tools they are going to encounter in the world. There has been the idea in some circles that somehow computers in the classroom magically make kids do better which is the other extreme which is also wrong. Encouraging kids to NOT use technology at any time is encouraging a type of illiteracy. Books, pencils, computers, tablets, Kindles, Android-based PDAs are all different type of tools, and there is no need to give any magical status to any of them or claim that one is “harmful” and another is not. Real power comes from the proper use of these tools.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1120706729 Jeff Bernhardt

    “In fact, she says, ‘technology will never replace a committed teacher.’”

    Sugata Mitra is doing research that goes against this at least somewhat. He’s finding that kids learn best when put into small in groups in front of a computer, given a task, and left alone to solve it by themselves.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

    • Anonymous

      Educators are much more than just conduits to pass knowledge onto kids, they’re mentors and role models to kids, at least competent, compassionate and committed ones are. Regardless of how far technology comes, I wouldn’t want to learn to relate to people from a computer, nor have students learn social norms from one.

      • AerosmithNirvana

        I don’t believe that’s being suggested. But, it shows that computers need to be a frequent tool that the teachers use to teach with.

  • Math Teacher

    Try the book, The Dumbest Generation, for more research into whether technology in the classroom is effective. Study after study indicates that while students enjoy school more when they have access to computers in the classroom, their scholastic performance (given by several different measurements in the book) at best holds steady and sometimes deteriorates. As an educator, I’m willing to look at the evidence before I decide what technology to embrace. I wish that were the general attitude.

    • Adamdlacanian

      Thank you. I’m going to check out this book. I tend to write my papers for grad school about this very same topic.

    • Jane

      Try this one: Everything Bad is Good for You: How’s Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, by Steven Johnson.

      • Adamdlacanian

        Is the typo “How’s Today’s” supposed to be part of the title? Is this book toying with irony, or was the irony a natural product of your post?

    • Math Teacher

      Yes, I read that book as well. The evidence that we are getting smarter boiled down to this: we are better at following complicated plot lines for television shows and figuring out difficult contrived problems such as are presented in modern day video games. There was no evidence adduced for any improvement in reasoning skills, math skills or anything pertinent to intelligence.

    • Anonymous

      Look into the success the state of Maine has had in improving math and reading achievements with its laptops for all students initiative.

      • Math Teacher

        Small world! I teach in Maine and my kids have experienced Maine public school, but not in a district involved in the laptops initiative. I will look into the data.

        • Anonymous

          Here’s a couple links, http://www.k12blueprint.com/k12/blueprint/story_good_news_from_maine_about_the_impact_of_laptops_on_writing_skills.php

          http://www.k12blueprint.com/k12/blueprint/story_math_and_science_results_from_maine.php

          What school level do you teach, and when were your kids in Maine public schools? I’m from Massachusetts but I understood that the program provided for laptops for all middle schoolers now.

          • Math Teacher

            I teach high school and my kids are still elementary school aged, but no longer attending public school. I looked on Maine.gov and there are only 8 schools in my county listed as belonging to the laptop program. The middle school in my town is not listed although one of the two local high schools is.

          • Math Teacher

            By the way, the k12blueprint site is run by Intel. No wonder they gush about the results of buying computers for every student. One sentence in the article also says “Undoubtedly, other factors beyond implementation of the laptop program may have contributed to improved writing performance over the course of five years (implementing new writing programs in schools, more teacher professional development, etc.), …” It’s not an argument that will end here.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, I know it wasn’t the best source, there are plenty of other articles out there, I just took the ones that came up at the top of a Google search (which of course Intel would with all its money).

          • litterkitty

            Right…Intel with all their money, Google with all their money……….follow the money!

        • Math Teacher

          A little research turned up an article on MSNBC.com about the 9-year old Maine laptop program with the subtitle: “State still needs to prove that computers help students learn better.” So, sounds like the same argument we’re having on this page. Some say it makes a difference, some say it doesn’t. Students are happier about being in school (see my comment about the book The Dumbest Generation), but are they helping children know and understand more about their world?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drake-Kohn/100000667406395 Drake Kohn

    I’ve read many of those studies, most are wildly innaccurate in their methods and only a handful hold up to rigourous scientific scrutiny. Theories are great, but none about tech shortening attention spans and other such nonsense has found much traction when studied correctly. Psychology and sociology are mostly guesswork, real science deals with facts.

  • Ann Bryson-Eldridge

    This is irresponsible. As a former teacher, I agree that good teachers cannot be replaced by technology, but a bad teacher could be replaced with a worksheet and a broom. We are not teaching kids for the world as it is now, we are teaching skills for the future. Even the human brain is changing to adapt to the demands of a digital society,just as it did during the industrial revolution and with the invention of the written word.

    • litterkitty

      Actually the human brain is not adapting well to technology, likewise for the human body…exposed to an ever increasing array of chemicals and pollutants to make it the technology possible.

  • Czulla

    Oh Ohio. *sigh* so behind. This IS where the jobs are and will be.

  • Wildbillyc3

    Most of you need to check out the NYTimes article, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute.” This is from October 22, 2011. Try not to let your addictions to technology close you minds.

    • Adamdlacanian

      Thanks for this article. I will use it in my next graduate paper.

    • Adamdlacanian

      If you liked that article, check out a NY Times article titled ‘Text Without Context’ by Michiko Kakutani. I’ve used it a couple of times for research papers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/praneyyan Phillip Raney-Yan

    If only we could fast forward to the future to see what impact these student make on our lives, and the planet as a whole it would be amazing. OH wait!!! No need to advance to the future at all to see. Just go to an Amish community and you can see exactly what happens. NOTHING, no advancement what so ever. It’s like living in a time trap, and enjoying it. Like Peter Pan wanting to stay a boy forever. It’s nice, comfortable, and “sweet” idea, but not practical. Look at China, and their growth. Students study an average of 9 hours a day, and are consuming technology like a starving bear. Now look at american children comparatively, and at the rate their country is declining.

    • litterkitty

      Look a China’s Pollution and Enviromental Degregation! How thrilling! We are destroying the Earth to make more tech gadgets, consuming more electricity…look at pictures of tar sands mining to observe real environmental destruction in action. We are like rats in a cage, dogs chasing our tales: we get poorer, we destroy and consume…all to make The Masters richer…why? If we kept our medical knowledge, spread the wealth around and lived simpler lives we would all be better off.

  • Sherri Obermark

    There is not one legitimate study that proves that technology helps students learn more efficiently. There are more computers in the class room than there has ever been, and scores continue to plummet. More technology is not the answer.

    • Adamdlacanian

      Exactly.

    • Ben

      *cue laughter*

      • Adamdlacanian

        Directed at who? Sure, you can point to thousands of articles that show “student engagement” with technology, but not enough time has passed with studies that follow these same studied children to discover what the long-term effects are of technology heavy schooling. If you really think it is so easy to discover these articles Ben, find a few to post here that kept a control group at a school that primarily used advanced technology over the k-12 education and followed the student success through college and onto their careers. When you find the articles, let us know. *cue applause* [I guess that makes both of us rather narcissistic and now]

        • Ben

          I’m sorry, I don’t recall mentioning, or offering, any articles. You must have me confused with someone else.

          • Ben

            But…. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959475210000502
            You can also do some light searching to discover that places with more computers in their classrooms (like, say, Seattle) have a MUCH higher literacy rate and score consistently better in science and math than places that have fewer computers (like, say, Akron).

          • Ben

            And do you even know what narcissism is?

    • Anonymous

      I’m not saying throwing technology en masse at all curricula will improve things, but it’s a ridiculous leap of logic to correlate flagging scores with use of technology, my biggest issue as an educator would be the increased focus on quantitative standardizing rather than emphasizing qualitative education with the students. Students learn problem solving, critical thinking, synthesis, and all the important skills that transcend mere knowledge in school, but each student is coming from a different place with their own needs, standards-focused education leaves no room for a teacher to understand and react to the needs of their individual students.

    • litterkitty

      Excellent observation…computers in school=ed lower scores and poorer learning. Something the “elite” don’t want to admit!

  • Dk22398

    What a pity for the children of Amy Hecky. The will enter society 10 years behind.

  • http://twitter.com/SenneLinda Linda Senne

    I agree with this article 100%. If you ask me, technology is the bane of the earth, and just causes us to use up our resources faster. people are destroying themselves with technology, and I think we would all be a lot better off if we went back to how things were done over 100 years ago, when people worked hard and took care of each other. The world is in terrible shape, and all of this technology is just making it worse.

    • Jane

      [Said while using a computer and internet to publicly share your opinion in a way that would have been impossible without the technology you condemn. Ironic.]

    • Adamdlacanian

      The article did not say any of that. You really need to start to read carefully. They are simply arguing for the postponing of digital technologies to focus on fundamental skill sets such as reading, writing, communicating, formation of identity and good character, etc. I agree that the school is on to something, but your interpretation of this article is rather skewed.

  • Annie

    Current technology will be obsolete by the time these elementary schoolers graduate from high school. Critical thinking skills are what will be required to create the new technology of their generation. Do you think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were exposed to computers in elementary school?

    • Ben

      Yes, actually. But beyond that, they had access to the tools necessary to work with and improve upon them. Each generation of tech is built upon the available tech at the time. Mean, the new technology will be built with what these kids will be missing. It’s like asking someone to put an IKEA desk together without a screwdriver.

      • Ben

        That should say, “Meaning, the new…”.

      • An appreciative reader

        LOL. Do you know how old Jobs and Gates are? Elementary and even junior high schools were excited about getting television sets back then, and if even your high school had a punched card system that you could submit jobs (pun intended) to once a week, you were very, very lucky.

        • litterkitty

          Gates attended a PRIVATE school, Gates father is a lawyer with large practice. Not living in poverty or near poverty is the key. Gates has set his sights on”helping” public education…he isn’t an expert on everything, he just wants to throw education to the privitizing Corporate wolves that allow him to run with their pack. He shows great disdain for public schools and a college degree in his past statements…always be suspicious of his motives.

  • Wdoug62

    Attitudes I read below are, backward in my opinion and the reason our education is so far behind other countries. The available technologies are ideal ways to rapidly learn mathematics and engineering. Learning to run simulations and do complicated calculations just cannot be better done any other way. I remember when these same types of attitudes were directed to those who carried portable calculators. Of course a clear concise and disciplined approach must be used. Language arts, spelling. Literature, foreign language and much more are readily learned. My own two sons were writing elementary code in the Basic language in the first grade. Now well out of college they have degrees in information technology and are in high demand in the industry. Their GPAs were consistently in the top 5% of their classes. I strongly advocate technology be taught as part of a teacher’s coursework. Don’t cut these kids short, they will amaze you with what they can learn.

  • Ben

    “In these first 12 or 13 years of their life it’s not what’s best for them.”
    Seriously? This is still an issue in two-thousand-friggin’-eleven? Yeah, it’s no place for calculators or mechanical pencils, either. ;p

    ‎”I don’t care if a kid ever sees a computer”
    Well, it’s nice of them to sacrifice their child’s future so another’s can have a decent job. That’s akin to saying “I don’t care if a kid ever hears a foreign language”. They need to come into contact with this stuff at an early age. My mother can use a computer better than my grandmother. I can use one better than my mother. My younger brother is better still. You think that age gap is a coincidence? No, each one started at an earlier age that the previous.

    • Adamdlacanian

      Ignorant statement.

      • Ben

        I know, right? ;)

  • weekly volunteer

    After volunteering weekly in K through 3 education, I noticed that when computers were used properly, it helped the teachers stay interested in lessons, it helped teach reading skills to Kindergarteners and it actually turned into powerful incentives to keep kids behaving properly. If you had a much smaller class size, it’s likely that you wouldn’t need computers just to teach basic skills. But in an era of larger class sizes and smaller budgets, computers are extremely powerful tools to keep kids learning and behaving well.

    And that’s ignoring the fact that kids could learn office skills using modern computers. Nowadays, most 12 years old are much more computer literate than their parents. Except at Waldorf school…

    • litterkitty

      “keep kids behaving properly”…the Plug In Drug, just like TV for which Plug In Drug was coined. How much easier to produce mindless drones, consumers of technology…thinking and hands on doing must get in the way….of someone else’s agenda. Give those Waldorf kids a computer (if they already don’t have one at home) and they’ll learn the basics in a few hours…I did it as a middle-aged adult!

  • Heather

    I’m only 23 and have been on computers for as long as I can remember. The problem I am seeing, myself included, is that people my age spend practically all their time using some kind of technology whether it is a smart phone, a pad, laptop, television, video game consoles, etc. The problem is that it has gotten to the point were they can’t live without them. People get bored easily and spend hours doing something on the internet, or playing a game, or on facebook/twitter either on their phone or computer. I’m noticing my generation is easily distracted, bored, and multitasking on everything. Plus with technology we can get everything now instead of waiting or working harder for it so we want everything now with minimal effort. I don’t think this is a good path to stay on. So maybe having computers out of schools is a good thing, they would have to work hard to do things and would learn that things take work and time.

    • litterkitty

      Eventually your generation will begin to feel like rats-in-cage…where you are in constant motion/turmoil, where you never can “get ahead”, where you are just a consuming “object”, where your worth is only the money you can produce for someone else….you are all trapped in “their” reality…the dreams of the ruling elite, the 1%.

  • Tom Rau

    Punahou is a school with a different view… http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/punahou/ ***

  • http://www.facebook.com/lambritt Brit Lambear

    You have no idea how much this enrages me. Are children going to need to know how to make flour bread when they grow up, or how to make a presentation in PowerPoint or Write reports in Word? Um, the second one by far. Let Mommy and Daddy teach them cooking, let schools prepare them for employment.

  • S. LoCascio

    As somebody who recently (within the past 5 years) graduated from public education, I have a very love/hate relationship with technology. I am a graduate student and tutor: the art and process of learning is not only important to me, but something my present career is very interested in. Technology has literally created a world where the ability to research is more accessable than ever before. My undergraduate institution openly embraced this, and forced my professors to find ways students should use the internet, office software, and online research tools. We live in a world where our technological presence is just as necessary as our social presence. However, technology is ultimately used to augment our lives, and I fear people tend to forget this when thinking of “the future.”

    As a tutor and supplemental instructor, I’ve encountered countless students who are crippled by technology. One of my favorite examples is a calculator and basic arithmetic. Most of my math sessions shared a very painful common theme: students needed calculators to do basic functions such as dividing 64 by 4. When I grew up, I cursed my mother for refusing to buy me a calculator at 10: it wasn’t fair that I had to take more time learning and doing the materials than my peers. However, now that I use the calculator to supplement/check my work rather than do my work for me, I am truly grateful when faced with much more complex tools. When encouraging my students to think about and discover a solution to a grammatical or communication problem themselves, one could see an almost immediate want to “find an answer” online.

    In short: I fully support when its role is to augment learning and our lives. We need critical thought reintroduced to education. We students to learn how to solve problems, and use the technology available. Placing a laptop in each student’s bag may teach the skills they need to have a competitive edge in a business world, but doesn’t encourage him to develop his brain and use those tools effectively.
    Our ability to form plans and solve problems is what saves us, and allows us to be prepared for the next wave/fad/technological product which is used in order to survive in this world.

    • litterkitty

      Unfortunately this “crippling” effect will haunt these students for the rest of their lives..just like failing to read properly or understand math. Very few will have the time, money or desire to go back and relearn what they missed. Because the technology has become so integrated into every subject over the course of 13 years, it would probably be impossible to go back and make up for everything lost and neglected over the yeras. The only thing that seems to be being learned is a worship of “celebrity”, ala the Kardasians, Dancing With The Stars or Inside Hollywood. This is our Nero fiddling while Rome burns….

  • Vs1b3g

    I believe that with all of the hype on technology we are losing the real depth of kids learning content knowledge. I know first hand that computers are not always the right answer and it shouldn’t be forced upon the kids to learn in that manner. I will teach the old way in a heart beat. I mean after all we were on the top way back when and know we are slipping toward the bottom of the batch of being the best educated country! Does it take a genius to figure out the problem? I’m just sayin’

  • Tynewydd1

    I’m a student in career transition. As a 56 years old male I am the oldest student in class. My classmates age anywhere from just turned 18 to 32 going on 18 and should know better. I say hello to each and everyone of them and treat them with respect and common decency. How many times have I been speaking with a professor only to be interrupted by one of my classmates?
    Respect for the professors is shown by using their laptops to access Facebook during lessons. For crying out loud-they can’t even add to the classroom discussion by at least googling for information that might at least make them appear “google smart.”
    They claim to be multi-tasking. Yet when the assignment is due important details, such as submission requirements, aren’t in the completed report.
    I still use a notepad and pencil, ask the professor for clarification and do my own homework. I’m not saying return to chalk on the back of a shovel. I believe the need for technology in the classroom needs a review.

    • litterkitty

      Technology in the classroom is doing what I believe the Corporate Elite intended it to do…dumbing down the future generations, allowing them to be rude and self-absorbed, numbing them to their eventual loss of privacy, loss of decent paying jobs, loss of soverneignty, loss of health, loss of dignity, loss of educational opportunity…doomed to used as a cog in the machine. The fact that you are retraining in your 50′s shows me that you are a victim of the failed trade and economic and political policies of our overesteemed Corporate/Business Elite. The Corporate/Business Elite have decided that people over the age of 45 are expendable…I wish you much luck in your quest to get a decent -paying job in the future…

  • Mihalko

    No technology in elementary schools is insane. Watch this TED video. This kid should not be the exception, he should be the standard. Damn lucky he didn’t go to one of these schools or we would have lost a great programmer. No technology in an elementary school is like claiming books shouldn’t be in schools.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_suarez_a_12_year_old_app_developer.html

    • litterkitty

      TED is a Tool of the Corporate Elite…notice there are no regular working people on these boards…always the Corporate and Political Elite, always their ideas are considered superior to those they wish to “lord-it-over”. Even if they sometimes seem to agree with the “common” people, the little guy…they will always work on implimenting their own elistist agenda. “Let them eat cake….” is their motto….

      • John Mihalko

        How is a kid trying to inspire other kids to get off their duffs, be creative and pursue educating themselves in technology through programming elitism? Are you implying that only the elite are smart enough to program?

  • Decoder

    Adamdlacanian, are you a moderator of this site? I doubt you are, so it might be nice to see you ease up on the bashing of everyone else’s opinions. Acting all high and mighty in this comment section does little to bolster your own credentials and experience as an English teacher. I believe that all educators, parents and students have a say in this, so please stop acting like everything you say is so right and everyone else’s opinions are so wrong. I have my own thoughts on this subject, especially since I’ve taught middle school computer media for the last 12 years and hold an MS in Education Media Design and Technology. However, even with my teaching experience and education, my opinions are not any more important than anyone else on here, including you. Perhaps you can try to be a little more open-minded about other comments posted on this page.

    • Anonymous

      FYI, reporter Ida Lieszkovszky and I are the only moderators for StateImpact Ohio. Also, FYI (and not directed at anyone in particular), here’s StateImpact Ohio’s comments policy: http://stateimpact.npr.org/comments-policy/

      This comment thread has been really thought-provoking for me, at least. Decoder, I hope you’ll feel free to share your thoughts.

  • Chris Lavallie

    The problem with computer use in the classroom is it too often replaces rote learning. Every child leaving fourth grade should be able to add one to a given number without even pausing to think about it. They should be able to do basic addition and subtraction quickly in their heads and be able to count by ones, twos, fives, and tens without any effort. These are the basic fundamentals of mathematics, and, due to poor quality teaching and electronic crutches, its largely lost on our kids. The use of a computer as a visual aid in a classroom until seventh grade or so is fine, but the use by students before middle school grades is unnecessary. Computers and technology have been overused in the schools to (badly) fill the gap left by underqualified teachers and learning programs that focus on student self esteem over student ability. Get back to the basics of rote learning of mathematics, reading, and writing in grades one to four with the earliest possible introduction of music and musical notation (as these provide a real benefit in mathematics). Kindergarten should return to its roots as primarily about socialization with an emphasis on games that teach obedience and conformity. Combine these things with decertification of the education major in colleges, reducing it to a minor or certificate program so that future teachers will need a degree in the subject they teach (or at least a closely related subject), and we will see a return of the American public school system to the level of quality it had in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.

    • litterkitty

      Teachers of the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s were Not certified to teach in only one subject…we frequently had teachers that moved from one elementary grade level to another or moved from math to science or through the whole range of science disciplines available in highschool. As for Kindergarten, a local grandparent told me that kids in kindergarten begin reading in the second week of school…why? Students in China don’t start formal reading instruction until 6 years old, not 4 or 5 (I cite China because that seems to be our government’s and the ed “reformers” benchmark…we made China properous, now we are their “slaves”, their underlings…). You must be of the Gates’ Crowd…certificates instead of degrees…bust the Unions…etc… Where do you think we will be with no protections for the working class…do you really think Bill Gates or the Walton Family Foundation of Walmart fame will be concerned if you have a decent, middle-class living? There is an indication that the politicians they support want to abolish minimum wage laws…do you think Big Business/the Gates’ and Waltons will pay anyone a living wage????

  • Annie

    I think there is something important that gets lost in the short space of this story. In my view, the statement that Waldorf schools are “all strictly anti-technology” is an unfair and myopic one. It is true that Waldorf schools carefully omit the use of TVs, computers and other technological equipment in the classrooms and discourage the use or encourage limiting the use of TV, video games and computers at home, especially in the earlier years of a child’s education. This does not mean that teachers do not have and readily use these tools in preparation for their lessons when needed, or that there is not a wide range of thought among the school community regarding just what role technology should play and when. However, I think the key is “the right tool at the right time”.

    As Ms. Harkin of e-Tech Ohio states, yes, in today’s world, if you walk onto a college campus or a new job without computer skills, you will be left behind. However, there is reason to be concerned about the breakneck pace with which our children are being asked to keep up, and the harder and younger they are being pushed. Especially in early childhood education, there is no call to have technology in the classroom. College and new jobs are years away, and computer skills are quickly and easily learned in later years. In their early years, especially, and even through later elementary and middle school, children deserve the chance to develop at an unhurried, reasonable pace. Instead of continuing to force greater and greater levels of academic and technological learning on ever younger children, perhaps it would do to step back, and have more faith in their ability to grow and develop and learn to a high level of academic, personal and interpersonal success at a more natural pace.

    In the current educational climate of the more technology the better, please reflect on some of the things we are losing in exchange, which a preschool, elementary school and even middle school without TVs and computers can provide in abundance: space for a child’s natural imagination and creativity to grow and deepen and space for a child to think for him or herself, both of which form a strong basis for critical thinking and problem solving; integration of knowledge and pride (building a strong sense of self-confidence) that come with a child having the opportunity to be fully involved in tasks as varied as helping to clean and care for the classroom and crafting a chair using hand tools from tree to finished product (and learning botany, math skills, history and more along the way); a slower pace that allows a child to develop an appreciation for nature and the tasks and people at hand; a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment where the entire day is spent in connection with other students and teachers rather than facing various screens; and the richness of language and depth of understanding that can come from hearing the words of fairy tales, reciting verses together, and exploring academic topics in depth, creating one’s own “textbook” as the year progresses.

    These are also the skills without which our children will be left behind as they enter college and the job market in years to come. They are vital skills that are becoming rarer as academics and technology get pushed earlier in our school system and it would behoove the educational community and the community at large to examine this issue. There must be a balance between “all strictly anti-technology” and the prevalent idea that more technology is inherently better; to respect our children’s appropriate and natural development, and then to introduce technology as “the right tool at the right time”.

    • litterkitty

      Too bad the establishment is PURPOSELY going in the opposite direction…locally there is a school which excepts 3 year-olds into universal pre-K…if they are potty trained (so we will error in going back to “forced” potty training which greated a myriad of problems for the baby boom generation). I also saw a preschool on TV which had an “educational program” for infants of 4 weeks old through kindergarten age. How sad….making an education program for kids whose main purpose is to grow and whose greatest educational potential will be found in play. And shouldn’t infants and mothers be able to “bond” at home? I heard of a ranking today on the radio that says that the U.S. ranks 16th on how good we treat and support our mothers…appropriate considering that mothers day is three days away. The 99% of us that are affected by these policies need to start saying NO…loudly and frequently. These “decisions” being made on our behalf only serve the Corporate/Industrial/Business desires…there is nothing there for us! Inceasing Corporations/Business ask for more and more…more money, more things done expressly for them: like tax breaks,using public money to finance stadiums for big league teams, doing research and development for them in public universities(for free), using our public schools for training centers (instead of business having paid apprenticeships), providing healthcare(Medicaid/Walmart), social security(instead of defined pensions). Business is cruel and cutthroat…survival of the fittest…social Darwinism……NPR aids them by demonizing a kinder, gentler, saner way to educate our children…shame on NPR!

  • http://www.facebook.com/art.hawley Art Hawley

    Look, I understand that the educational system is designed to shape children into money makers. The more money the better. Not for the child grown to adulthood, but for the corporate structure that farms their production like ranchers farm chickens for eggs.

    We find ourselves in a world where money and opportunity grow more scarce every day. OK, not all of us “find ourselves” there. 1% of us deliberately put us there. Most of us are blind to this fact. We were too busy studying to get the credentials to get a job, and if we were lucky enough to find that job, we were too busy working to notice. Technology is very helpful to this process, both for creating cogs in the wheels of the machinery, and keeping their minds occupied in their off time.

    But do we have to begin this before the 8th grade? Can’t we allow some time for children to just be children and live life?

    Of course we can’t. The rancher can’t have their cattle balking at the trip down the chute. They can’t have the livestock considering alternatives, or even understanding what they have lost.

    • litterkitty

      You hit the nail on the head! Look who’s involved in education “reform”…Bill Gates’ Foundation, The Walton Foundation of Walmart’s ruling family…are they doing this out of their great love for the 99% who are poorer than them? Don’t count on it…it’s all about money…the money that can be made out of throwing education to the wolves of privitization….And turning out people who are actually non-critical thinkers to be the future cogs-in-the-money-making- machine for the 1%. We are being duped…again…

  • Soma Banerjee

    Its a wonderful initiative. The computer cannot be denied in these modern times but can be limited to a great extent. The teacher cannot be outlived by technology because computers cannot be role models in real life. The computer should be within the teacher’s bounds.

  • E148

    “”If you walk onto a college campus, a new job, or anywhere else, if you don’t have those skills you are left behind,” says Harkin.” This is non-sense. A college campus does not use laptops to teach its students. You may use a computer as a word processor. You do not need to learn MS Powerpoint, for example, for most jobs. So, why teach it in schools, especially in K-12. Nowadays, it is relatively easy to learn to use a computer. It does not take it being taught in K-12. It does not take 13 years. Most technology taught in 9th grade will be obsolete by the time they graduate high school. A little OJT is all that is needed to use a computer to do most jobs out there. We recently had a local news story where about a dozen octogenarians were being shown how to use a computer. If an 80 year old can learn so can a 20 year old.

    The fact that it is so prevalent outside of school (at home, at the library) is one reason it is NOT needed in school. You do not need to know about the inner workings of computer in order to use it, anymore than you need to understand the science behind the telephone in order to use it.

  • Tina Lambros Watts

    I love it! I am an art teacher and am constantly being pressured to shove technology in my students’ faces. I feel that kids today get enough screen time, they don’t need it in every class in school too! I have to teach art to my middle school kids in the science room and the tables are so precious, we’re not allowed to get them “dirty”. “They” think the iPads and laptops are a good trade off, but these kids want to paint and use clay for real, not “virtually”. I understand it’s the future, but there’s such a thing as overkill, and I think the amount of technology that is being shoved down students throats today is overkill. It was ok when it was once a week in a computer lab, but now it’s almost everyday in almost every class. (At least that’s how it is in our district.) It’s ridiculous. So I love the idea of this Ohio school. :)

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