Dot Physics

Let them have computers

Announcement: There is a ton of extra money for education of teachers. You should submit a grant proposal.

Hey, let’s submit a proposal and get laptops for a whole bunch of students.

To me, this is like giving morphine to people with the flu. It will make them feel better, but doesn’t really fix the problem. A proposal like the above would probably get funded and probably make some people look great, but would it really help?


  1. #1 FUG
    April 30, 2009

    I’ve seen them put to great use in a “Progressive” (As in, that particular philosophy of education) school in my town — each student had their own lap top, and were given free reign to use it. The students, while also using the computers for things such as chat applets and blogs, also learned a whole lot on their own, as they were free to look up whatever pleased them. They also learned how to use the computers to incorporate technology into their presentations, they used them for extra-curricular activities (such as recording and editing music), and found lectures on mathematics that the teacher of the school wasn’t prepared to teach — such as calculus.

    These were 8th graders.

    In addition, it is the responsibility of school to socialize students. Technology is a part of our society. So, students ought to learn how to use it.

    All that being said, I’d still support using at least a portion of that money to first raise teacher’s salaries concurrently with teacher standards.

  2. #2 Jake
    May 1, 2009

    I’ll put this back on you: Where would you get the money, and what would /you/ do with it?

  3. #3 Rhett
    May 1, 2009

    I guess I should clarify. I don’t think computers are bad. I love computers. How could you use python without a computer? The problem is just giving computers and thinking that will make things better.

    I know there are some great teachers out that there make some great uses of computers. I am amazed at what these teachers do. I have also been in classrooms and seen a ton of awesome equipment (computers, pasco probes and stuff) that was still in the box and had been for several years.

    I really don’t know what I would do with money to help teachers. I have tried several things in the past that I would consider partially successful. Maybe if you obtained some technology for teachers and had some workshops on what to do with the equipment would be good – but I have even see stuff like that fail.

  4. #4 Uncle Al
    May 1, 2009

    A social advocate says, “WE MUST DO SOMETHING!”
    An engineer says, “we must do something pertinent.”

    Given pipe wrenches, how many students become plumbers? One doubts a student can be assayed by its backpack burden – though it would make a lovely MS/Ed thesis: Brick size, colour, and shape versus sandbags as discovered statistically significant non-inert controls in student backpack weight versus achievement studies (1448 word abstract).

    Computers are gateway instrumentality to social irresponsibility. No child should be allowed to think until sufficient maturity is achieved to be tried as an adult. Give them computers, get hard-core hackers serving hard time.

  5. #5 Al
    May 3, 2009

    First, I am a science teacher. I firmly believe that technology eductation is very imprtant in the 21st cent. However, technology for the sake of technoloongy isn’t going to solve any problems. Sure, giveing kids laptops in school sounds great in PR releases, it appears that something is being done to raise standards, and that schools are modern.

    However, in many cases I know about it is just for the sake of appearances and optics because it is the easy thing to do.

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