The Failure of the iPad Classroom

This is the best article I have read over the years that explains why technology and computers are not good for our children in schools. Click here to read this MUST READ article in full or an excerpt below which I feel are the top two reasons.

 

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How technology is hurting students

Young children learn about the world through physical senses: grabbing and touching, smelling and hearing, seeing, licking. The widely held recommendations by pediatricians the world over to avoid exposing children under age two to screens is not out of concern that the content on those screens will damage their brain, but for fear that they will replace more valuable, sensory activities, such as putting their hands through a box of sand, or eating a tub of Play-Doh.

“The big organizing ideas around our formations of relationships are that physical experience,” said Diane Levin, professor of early childhood education at Wheelock College in Massachusetts. “ece theorists say that’s the foundation for both learning [and] social, emo­tional, and cognitive development.” Levin used my own daughter’s experience at daycare that day as an example. At the time, she was  one and a half, and was finger painting in her class. That activity not  only involved her ability to create an image on paper, Levin said, but the sensory feeling of the wet paint running down her arm, the vi­sual learning of the colors mixing as she moved her fingers around the paint, the spatial learning when she moved her arm off the paper and the paint dripped onto the floor, and the social learning when she flung paint at another kid and they cried, and the teacher told her why that wasn’t cool and why she had to apologize.

Finger painting was a full-body, full-mind experience. Compare that to numerous finger painting apps available for a tablet, and the sensory learning expe­rience is reduced down to the tips of her fingers dragging across a  small glass surface, without texture, smell, taste, or other physical and social consequences. “When you’re pushing buttons, it’s an abbrevia­tion of all of that,” Levin said. “You’re just not getting it.”

Even the best educational computer programs and games, de­vised with the help of the best educators, contain a tiny fraction of the outcomes of a single child equipped with a crayon and paper. A child’s limitless imagination can only do what the computer allows them to, and no more. The best toys, by contrast, are really 10 percent toy and 90 percent child: paint, cardboard, sand. The kid’s brain does the heavy lifting, and in the process it learns.

All of this is necessary, even as children inevitably grow up to use computers in their later schooling or work. Education is a lifelong building process that starts with a foundation of very basic skills and increases, year after year, in its complexity and abstractness. When I am typing these words on my laptop, I am using spatial and social reasoning skills that I learned as a three-year-old playing with lego bricks.

The temptation for eventual savings is powerful, but it under­scores that the implementation of technology in schools carries a financial burden. Not just the initial capital cost of acquiring the technology, but continual expenses to maintain, repair, replace, and update it. A school gymnasium can last decades, a good textbook sometimes fifteen years or more. Some of the desks at my university  were damn near a hundred years old. But any digital technology, no matter how well designed it is, becomes obsolete in just a few years, and inevitably stops working. My only memory of school computers was of dusty relics in the corner that didn’t even turn on.

Dollars spent on digital education technology are dollars that cannot be spent on teachers, building maintenance, or textbooks. It is money that has been pulled from programs in art, sports, music, and drama.

 

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