"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, September 12, 2016

High Tech Execs Demand Low Tech Schools (for their kids)

We have known for a long time that the paternalistic patrons of "no excuses" schools for the poor would never ever allow their own children to be subjected to the dehumanizing educational environments of KIPP, Mastery, Achievement First, etc.  

We know, too, that the Silicon Valley designers of digital crap learning systems that are being sold under the banner of "personalized learning" in places like Houston would never allow their own children to be chained to unhealthy wi-fi and computer screens for as much as half the school day.  God forbid.

This first embarrassment to Silicon Valley and the profiteering hacks that sell their snake oil emerged in a 2011 story in the New York Times, when Matt Richtel reported on the very low tech preferences of high tech executives:

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.
Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.
This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.
And here is the updated version of that story from The Guardian, which appeared in December 2015 (be sure to follow the links below):
. . . the fact that parents working for pioneering technology companies are questioning the value of computers in education begs the question – is the futuristic dream of high-tech classrooms really in the best interests of the next generation? 
A global report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests education systems that have invested heavily in computers have seen “no noticeable improvement” in their results for reading, maths and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests. The OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher says: “If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classroom. 
“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately,” he adds. 
Other reports have raised concerns about the potentially negative impact of social media on young people, and the disruptive behaviour associated with use of mobile phones and tablets in the classroom is being examined in the UK.
Beverly Amico, leader of outreach and development at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, explains that their approach uses “time-tested truths about how children learn best”. Teachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing rather, than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet.

, but it more relevant now than ever before:

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