Removing Technology from Schools to Improve Education

Hot on the heels of India's $35 tablet designed to promote education within the country, and the annual new computer purchases for hundreds of public schools across the US, The New York Times printed an article that details the educational standards for children of some of Silicon Valley's biggest names; surprisingly, the schools in question are gadget-free and as low-tech as any you'd find in the pre-computer era.
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.

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.”
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.

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.

“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.”

And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

“It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Eagle said. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”

Students at Waldorf schools learn the same way almost anyone born before the last few decades: pen, paper, chalk, books, hands-on activity, simple experimentation. While most schools agree that technology is a necessary tool for learning (even my daughter had computer hour once a week in Pre-K), those who would most logically turn to technology to aid their own childrens' education (namely, the inventors of said tech) are eschewing gadgets and PCs wholesale.

Is eliminating all new technology a better tactic than using computers in classrooms, or simply a different one? Which would you prefer for your kids?

Read the Times piece in full - Link

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Man, I hate to think what Archimedes did without his Mac...

"We are all geniuses; however, if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree he will go trough his entire life believing that he is stupid."

Technology or not, education in this country is a joke!! "Most likely to succeed" Has anyone ever asked what that even means? Most likely to succeed at what? Life? I see a lot of uneducated C students that live to an old age... seems they have succeeded at life. Most likely to reign in the capitalist world is all it means... success, right...

"It is to measure of health to be adapted to a profoundly sick society"

We need to fix society before we worry about a better or worse way of "educating" it. Sorry, Neatorama rant; soap box dismount.
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Said another way: Of course a book shelf, art supplies, and personal attention from teachers/nannies/parents is better than a computer.
Which can we give to everyone?
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It's a high-class issue. Knowledge and opportunity aren't a scarcity for these Waldorf kids.
If you are poor and opportunities/knowledge is hard to get, the internet is a blessing.
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As a techie parent of a kid that goes to a Waldorf school (they're called Steiner schools here in Australia) I obviously agree with much of what is said about these schools.
As a newly qualified teacher, with experience of teaching at both traditional and steiner senior schools, the difference in the kids is completely astonishing - steiner kids are far more self-reliant, generally eager to learn, polite and nice to one another and to the teachers. etc.
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