Leaders in Tech Industry; Computers and Schools Don’t Mix

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“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.

The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

~By MATT RICHTEL, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” NY Times, October 2011

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5 thoughts on “Leaders in Tech Industry; Computers and Schools Don’t Mix

  1. Pingback: Leaders in Tech Industry; Computers and Schools Don’t Mix | Teachers Blog

  2. Yes they do mix and to the benefit of the children. We cannot take the example of elitists, the Waldorf system and these particular, possibly wealthy individuals to dictate what happens in the schools of Scunthorpe, were the students need all the help they can get.

    As with everything, a mix of all is best, not a dogmatic approach one way or the other.

  3. Pingback: Leaders in Tech Industry; Computers and Schools Don’t Mix | IEA Voice

  4. Pingback: A Clever Way To Share Student Data | WagTheDog

  5. Pingback: #whatif… | WagTheDog

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