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No-Tech Schools In Tech Land 538

manyoso writes: "This article in the Oregonian tells how some hi-tech parents at Intel are opting for a school without computers for their children. From the article: 'Conventional wisdom holds that children can only benefit from exposure to technology', but children, 'shouldn't spend first-grade skipping coloring and learning to keyboard... Emphasizing computers doesn't seem to enhance students' creativity and could even stifle it... We want them to eventually see what a computer can do for them, but only after they know what they can do for themselves.'" Clifford Stoll has argued and written along similar lines.
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No-Tech Schools In Tech Land

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  • I agree. (Score:2, Informative)

    by ( 142825 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @09:48PM (#2997867) Homepage
    How many times have you run into cashiers, tellers, etc. who need computers or calculators to be able to do math?

    Learn the basics first. The computer should suplement, not replace.

  • by gnarled ( 411192 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @09:51PM (#2997886) Homepage
    Ummm in first grade you are learning how to write English and do very basic addition/subtraction. I don't think coding is a good outlet for a first graders creativity honestly. The even worse part of the new trend of having a computer for every student at school is that administrators and politicians believe this is actually a good substitution for good teachers. Computers are great when you are older, but I don't think you really NEED them for a good education especially in elementary school.
  • Re:This makes sense (Score:2, Informative)

    by mother_superius ( 227373 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @09:58PM (#2997929) Homepage
    For most math, it's better to understand how it works than to understand that the calculator knows - you need to realize how these functions work so you can move on to more complicated things where you will need them.

    Knowing how to use a calculator is not the same as knowing math.

  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @09:59PM (#2997939)
    Wow, only someone has been to the Northwest would ever say Oregon is right-wing. Oregon is as far left as it gets. Marijuana is legal. Reed College's motto is "Communism, Atheism and Freelove". This is the state that has ELF, the Earth Liberation Front, environmental terrorists. Socialists thrive there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @10:07PM (#2997984)
    The Religious Reich seems to be at it again. Oregon and Washington have been notoriously right-wing.

    Wha-a-a-t?? You apparently don't live here. Washington is so left you don't want to stumble or you'll fall off the edge.

    Oregon has it's share of rabid bible-thumpers rearing their shaggy heads (flared nostrils and all) these days. But the only state where all public beachland is clothing optional and flower children *still* exist is hardly a a bastion of right-wing fundivity.

    Rest assured, Seattle won't be paying attention to this nonsense. We like our computers. Now, I'm off to the country's only sex-positive community center.
  • by npietraniec ( 519210 ) <npietran&resistive,net> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @10:08PM (#2997991) Homepage
    a game by the creators of Myst that let you explore worlds)!

    There's a real world out there that's more fantastic than any imaginary world that some computer nerd dreamed up. Children need to be socialized - yes, sitting in front of a computer stifles creativity.
  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @11:47PM (#2998282) Homepage Journal

    I think you are misunderstanding the issue here. I also have been using computers since an early age. []

    There is a difference between what you and I did and what the kids in elementary school do now.

    You and I hacked video games, learned 6502/6510 on our own, and learned how the computer worked intimately.

    In the typical school setting nowadays, none of this happens. The schools usually present the computers as a fixed system in a class running a specific program. Not as an interesting tool to examine, understand, or learn to build or hack.

    The difference is that you and I were pulled by the computers to learn them. I believe that kids being 'pushed' to learn specific apps would get nothing out of them. Imagine if in 1983 all the schools had computers - Probably all they would have done with them is teach the students the control codes for WordStar. Hardly useful later on in life. Any student who learned how to run the CP/M assembler to create command files would be told 'Stop that! It is not on the final exam!'

    It really comes down to how the computers are presented to the students.

    As an aside, one of my very good friends is an accomplished musician [] with a geophysics degree.


  • by bman08 ( 239376 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @12:00AM (#2998354)
    I did a creative writing workshop with fourth graders who all had laptops. It was great that I could read their writing, but overall, I think the effects were negative.

    Spell check was really intrusive. Kids want to spell right and they'd waste tons of time on spelling.

    Also, the delete key enabled them to destroy work beyond the possibility of recovery. In groups without computers, a crossed out page or ripped up notebook can still be transcribed. By the time I could reenforce that what they'd written was great... it was already gone.
  • by stinkyelf ( 558533 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @01:23AM (#2998661) Homepage
    From about year 1 to year 7 (I'm 24 now) I went to a waldorf school (they are known as steiner schools here in Australia), and never really used a computer till around year 10 when I had to do some cad for my design and tech class, from memory we didn't have a computer at home until I was in year 11 (my parents are still hopeless with computers so definately weren't techies).

    Going to a steiner school certainly didn't hold me back as a programmer (current job though I want to get back outdoors a bit more), it also probably made me more inquisitive about constructing things and pulling things to bits to figure out how they worked, both real things and computer things.

    I really enjoyed going to a steiner school, we learnt a hell of a lot about the bush, art (not as in art history, more about doing stuff ourselves) and sports, mostly as enjoyment rather than competition (eg going bushwalking, swimming in the river etc.), though we did of course play soccer at lunch, the lack of competitive sports as part of the curiculum hasn't held me back at all when it comes to sports (I compete in sailing on an international level).

    because of the totally different method of learning I had a bit of a shock going into a public school halfway through year 7 and coming across algebra and strict timetables etc.

    something which I'm not sure if it's because of the school I went to or what, though I very rarely play games on the computer, never really have, always use it for making things or learning rather than as a form of entertainment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:07AM (#2999002)
    Last year I was thinking of becoming an ITC teacher in a UK school and was
    going around some schools finding out what teaching ITC was like and exactly
    what it involved.

    I asked one poignant question and made one comment the answers to which
    basically put me off the whole idea.

    The question was "At what stage do pupils learn to program?", the answer to
    this was "They don't, they may do a little VBA in word if they really need
    to but other than that programming is not taught". I couldn't believe this,
    this was my main reason for wanting to teach and it wasn't even on the

    The point I made was that as an ICT teacher, I would still like to set
    homework that would require children to submit handwritten and hand drawn work.
    The reason being that they were less likely to simply cut and paste into a doc
    without actually reading the content. Not all homework, just some.
    The chap taking us around said "Ah, but what about those children that have
    PCs at home and would otherwise not do the homework because they feel their
    handwriting wasn't good enough or can't draw as well as the others or have
    trouble with their spelling?"

    My conclusion is that, Britain at least, is turning out useless microsoft
    oriented drones that will make great secretaries and little else. Yes,
    once the brighter pupils go to University then I'm sure typing and formatting
    in word will be very useful and they will learn many other things too but
    anyone that thinks that computers in UK schools encourage creativity are
    in for a rude awakening
  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @11:13AM (#2999973) Homepage
    A lot of the more advanced Texas Instruments calculators (I can't tell you which ones, and I'm sure other brands do as well) can do derivatives and integrals of most functions, just like you have shown. My Ti-86 can do integrals, but it will only give you a decimal approximation, not an exact answer. I'm not even sure how to use it for that purpose anyway.
  • by TimboJones ( 192691 ) <> on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @11:51AM (#3000216) Homepage
    Helpful directional hint: look at the TI-92 [Plus], and the TI-89.
  • Some Useful Links (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @12:16PM (#3000369)
    For those people who are interested in actually thinking about why and how computers might be used in early childhood education, a useful link may be the companion site to Seymour Papert's new book (The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap) at [].

    Incidentally, for those who (like the remarkably incurious reporter writing the original article) might be inclined to assume that the school's refusal to use computers arises from careful and thoughtful consideration, it might be worthwhile checking out the PLANS site at []. While this site is (to say the least!) biased, all the necessary links and references are available there for people to make up their own minds about the worth of the Waldorf approach to teaching.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian