Class Warfare Blog

July 30, 2016

Will Anyone Notice?

In this country we have a centuries long commitment to educational fads. We no sooner dump one fad than to embrace another. We have a kind of Pony Express approach to education reform, which unlike the Pony Express, doesn’t really go anywhere.

So, for quite some time here in the U.S. the fad has been “technology in the classroom” which has been recently boosted by a commitment to quite unnecessary group testing which is often computer-based, even though the students being tested often do not have sufficient computer skills.

Well, a recent OECD study (“Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection”) has found that despite billions of dollars of frantic government spending, where information and communications technologies are used, their impact on student performance has been “mixed, at best,” in the words of the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher. “In most countries, the current use of technology is already past the point of optimal use in schools,” said Schleicher. “We’re at a point where computers are actually hurting learning.” and “Technology in the classroom has so far had little positive effect on childhood learning.”

It also found that children may learn best with analog tools first before later adding digital platforms, and that a few hours per week of classroom screen time may be optimal for children, beyond which learning benefits drop off to diminishing, or even negative, returns (my emphasis).

I suspect that in this country, our politicians will listen more to the commercial hawkers of “education technologies” than they will researchers and that we will continue to waste billions of dollars and megahours of student effort, thus harming students, for decades to come.

The irony is the general recognition in this country of the superior educational system of Finland, which bases its educational practices on research, American educational research in the most. But we do not follow, we lead … because we are e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

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7 Comments »

  1. It’s too bad that the abacus lobby doesn’t have the power it used to have.

    Comment by List of X — July 30, 2016 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

    • Happened when the bead market collapsed.

      On Sat, Jul 30, 2016 at 9:01 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 30, 2016 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, I need a good lol!

      Comment by shelldigger — July 31, 2016 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  2. I know my kids have been exposed to computers at home, indeed usually know more than I do, and I have been somewhat computer savvy since win 3 and dos 6.0

    In several cases my kids had to help the teachers with the computers. If kids are not being exposed to computers before they get to school, they are already left behind.

    Comment by shelldigger — July 31, 2016 @ 8:02 am | Reply

    • It is amazing we got through school … without any of them! I remember being in graduate school and handheld calculators were becoming available (starting at $400 a pop) and there was a length discussion as to whether students would be allowed to use them on tests, etc. Eventually we just shrugged because, as I argued, they are just a tool, and the prices dropped to the point everyone could afford one.

      The same is true of computers now. And I have yet to see a piece of educational software that was worth the effort, the best being sources of drill and skill exercises, which of course can be provided on paper. Truly interactive educational software would be nice … if it existed.

      On Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 8:02 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 1, 2016 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  3. I take pride in not using technology in my classes. I use it as reference materials only. Well that and my own classes I design. Presentation classes are good. The text book is only a foundation. I flesh it out with the latest from the real world. The Internet is very good for that. Science Daily and Eureka are daily events for me. I don’t let the kids use calculators. 7th Grade Science math isn’t to deep so pen and paper and their heads are all that is used. Hands on science and thought provoking questions are my style. They hate it when I ask them “why?” to an answer they give.

    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — August 1, 2016 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, I had a bad reputation for requiring calculations to be explained. You didn’t just get to push numbers around, there had be a coherent narrative to accompany them (the numbers themselves have no meaning and tell no story).

      The technology I wanted them to use was a brain, their brain. It is a Yuge processor and has a great deal of memory and the input of information could be easier (no typing!).

      On Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 2:57 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 1, 2016 @ 3:06 pm | Reply


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