March 27, 2008

Buy More Books, Less Computers

I may be out here all alone, but I totally agree with Todd Oppenheimer in this award-winning article. I know, I know it's from way back in 1997. But he updated and expanded it into a book in 2003, under the title The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology. He's not against buying computers at all and is certainly for the use of technology for teachers. It's the rooms and rooms given over to "computer labs" and the vast amounts of money spent on these quickly-obsolete things in an environment already poisoned by an over-reliance on standardized testing. We need more books in the media center. We need more money and time for the arts and physical education. We need more time and money for the basics of reading and writing. We don't need the three classrooms converted to computer labs in my school while there are teachers out in trailers. This is especially true at the elementary level.

I'm all for email, love podcasts, do my lesson plans on Buzzword and Google Docs. I have a blog and a wiki. I used the scanner and color printer the other day. I use a digital camera and photo-editing software regularly. I put kids on and at times. But there's a reasonable amount and there is what we have now which is far beyond what is necessary. It's clearly not doing anything to improve student achievement or close the achievement gap.

So what gives?