From pencils to pixels, technologies won ’t fi x our schools

Dennis Baron debaron at UIUC.EDU
Tue May 8 21:29:40 UTC 2007

There's a new post on the Web of Language -- 

 From pencils to pixels, technologies won’t fix our schools.

Schools that once saw laptop computers as the best thing to hit the  
classroom since the invention of paper are starting to view laptops  
as overpriced electronic pencils that can’t connect the educational  
dots.  According to the New York Times (“Seeing No Progress, Some  
Schools Drop Laptops,” May 4, 2007), one school dropped its one- 
laptop-per-student program after finding that, when they weren’t  
crashing, computers didn’t raise students’ scores but instead offered  
them new ways to cheat, download pornography, and hack into local  
business sites.  Other schools, finding little return on their  
computer investment, are logging off as well. .... Earlier gee-whiz  
technologies raised the same sorts of hopes and fears we see with  
educational computing.  Radio also promised to bring the world into  
the classroom.  In 1952, when I was in third grade, we listened to  
educational radio once a week in class, but children used the hour to  
daydream while the teacher worked at her desk.  Film was going to  
show us the educational world that radio couldn’t, but when the  
lights went out and the projector flickered, students napped.   
Television was the next agent of classroom change that changed  
nothing.  Of course radio, movies and TV remain vital for news and  
entertainment, but so far as education is concerned, chalk and  
pencils were just as effective, and a whole lot cheaper... Even the  
now-all-but-extinct typewriter was going to boost learning.  In the  
1930s, two university researchers placed portable typewriters on  
students’ desks in selected schools around the country and discovered  
that typing all their schoolwork raised test scores by as much as  
seven percent for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. ...

Read the rest on

The Web of Language.



Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

read the Web of Language:

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list