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[ale] Cobb Laptop Deal

On Aug 15, 2005, at 6:17 PM, Geoffrey wrote:

> Mark Wright wrote:
>> I am glad the deal fell apart even though I am a former Evangelist
>> member. ( Guy Kawasaki's old mailing list to promote mac info back a
>> few years)
>> I think that computers in schools are just another impediment to  
>> a  good
>> education.  I believe there is no teen in the metro area that  cannot
>> operate a windows PC currently or passably given a day to  learn.
>> Putting PCs in schools unless, they are used just to teach  coding or
>> hardware design just takes away time from learning to read,  write  
>> and
>> do math.
> This is just patently false.  I was totally against the cobb computer
> debacle, but the computers in schools these days are used for a lot  
> more
> then 'teach coding or hardware design.'  You don't even get the option
> to take such classes until late in middle school.  So what do you  
> thing
> the students are doing with the computers in grades k-5?
They remove some of the grading burden for teachers.  All Cobb and  
Cherokee grade schools use their computers mostly for a program  
called Accelerated Reader.  It was a "must have" at a private school  
I consulted for.  The teachers at this school went on and on about  
how it helped their students learn to read.  I was really excited to  
see this revolutionary teaching system that I was being paid to  
install.  I was never so disappointed.  It is nothing but a database  
of questions for books the school has to buy for their library.  The  
kids read the books and then answer the questions on the computer.   
The computer automates the grading and performance tracking for the  
teacher.  The computer does zero for the children.

Years later my second oldest nearly failed reading because she found  
it too tedious to go in her spare time to the library and take the  
easy tests even though she read the books.  I suppose more PC's in  
the school would have given her less of an excuse but so would a  
teacher to deliver the few questions.

I have been closely involved with computers and schools and I don't  
see the need.  Knowledge gained from a library book usually lasts  
longer than google answers.  I have been to plenty of dog an pony  
shows for education software and I have also come in a year or two  
later to replace the dusty unused equipment with yet another  "latest  
answer" for lagging test scores.

> Further, you make an assumption that every teen in the metro area has
> access to a computer outside of school, and that is also false.

No I didn't.   I just believe with all the electronic toys even the  
poorest kids in Atlanta have, that adding Windows skills to what they  
already know is trivial.
> Don't get me wrong, I don't think the computers in the schools are
> properly utilized, but they do a lot more with them then you've  
> stated.
> I do realize there are all kinds of problems with computers in  
> schools.
>   Teachers get little or no training, there is little or no support,
> poorly designed network infrastructure...
> Computers can be used as a good educational tool just as books, chalk
> boards, white boards, overhead projectors..... are.  In a lot of cases
> they are.
I think this is conventional wisdom.  Computers are expensive, I use  
one to be more productive therefore my child who needs to learn to  
read better and master algebra needs one.  Besides if our kids aren't  
getting the grades we want we gotta do something.  I think a computer  
makes a good carrot in a classroom but not a good tool.  That is a  
general tool such as a pencil or a black board or a book.  It makes a  
good specialized tool.  If you want to learn HTML it helps.  If you  
want to add some web resources to a lesson it helps but as a tool to  
teach math skills it falls way short of a teacher.  I have supervised  
a complete 4th grade curriculum delivered on a PC. It is just a book  
that can grade itself.  The some students did well with it most did  
not.  Most kids need more teacher time.

I mentioned the carrot above. The most effective use of computers I  
have seen was a teacher that let her class play educational games on  
them if they did there work fast enough.  It had to be correct.   
Mostly the boys in the class were working to get PC time though.  the  
girls needed other incentive.

>> The crazy thing is every time the government wants to spend more  
>> of  our
>> money to help students read, write and do math better, all you   
>> have to
>> do is move the curtain back a little and see that the  opposite  
>> is  do a lot more then
>> ALWAYS the result.
>> As you can see this is a sore point to me and I am restraining   
>> myself!
>> My daughters go to a respected public school up here in cobb  and I
>> don't think it would be much of an exaggeration to say they  there  
>> are
>> probably as many guns and containers of alcohol in that  school as  
>> there
>> are computers.  I am dead serious.
> And you blame the school system or the government for that?  The  
> problem
> with schools is that there is no parental involvement.  Schools are  
> not
> supposed or intended to parent these children, that's the parents'  
> job.
> -- 
> Until later, Geoffrey
> _______________________________________________
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> Ale at ale.org
> http://www.ale.org/mailman/listinfo/ale

Mark Wright
NASA Maintenance Specialist
Mark_Wright at NASAsupport.com


"Whatever It Takes"

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