Magical Thinking Watch: Whiteboards in every classroom, a literate student in every home

Education technology does not seem to be solving our education woes.  So concludes this impressively-reported New York Times story on an Arizona school district that has spent $33 million since 2006 on the ed. establishment’s usual panaceas of “whiteboards,” laptops, and interactive computer programs.  Despite this outpouring from the taxpayer cornucopia, test scores have remained flat.  

Big surprise.  Educational technology would be the solution to mediocre academic performance only if the lack of educational technology were the cause.  Somehow, however, John Milton managed to learn Latin, Greek, and Hebrew without an Ipad, as did thousands of other children far less gifted than he; generations upon generations have mastered algebra, geometry, and the rudiments of historical knowledge just reading from—gasp!—books! 

The most important tools in the classroom are self-discipline, perseverance, and a desire to learn (or, failing that, fear of the consequences for not doing so).  Don’t expect the ed. establishment and its by now massive orbiting planetary system of consultants, foundations, and contractors to acknowledge that fact, however, since it would entail getting back to basics, restoring order, intellectual authority, and discipline in the classroom, and demanding hard work from children and commitment from parents.  All that is far too judgmental and socially divisive.  Not to mention that it would defund the highly-profitable ed. industry

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7 Responses to Magical Thinking Watch: Whiteboards in every classroom, a literate student in every home

  1. Clark says:

    For 33 million you could hire a lot of extra teachers and change the curriculum so you have one person teaching and an other one going around and doing one on one teaching for those struggling. Almost certainly a better use of funds than some computers that will quickly be out of date.

  2. Matt Foss says:

    It seems that the education system has forsaken its human element (i.e., teachers) in favor of shiny new technology.

    Students will learn far more under a skilled, motivated teacher than from even the most impressive array of gadgets (not that teaching technology isn’t valuable in its own right, but it is a supplement and not a replacement for good teaching skills).

    Money being squandered on these high-priced toys could’ve been used to offer competitive salaries to better teachers. Instead, they’re laying them off. Simply stunning.

    Clark, evidently we were thinking along the same lines (I didn’t see your comment until after I’d finished mine).

  3. John says:

    I would increase class sizes. The money saved would allow us to pay teachers more, and get more qualified people. And tracking, tracking, tracking.

  4. Daniel says:

    You hit the nail on the head with “The most important tools in the classroom are self-discipline, perseverance, and a desire to learn”. With the internet and libraries readily available to the vast majority of children, there is no excuse for a child with a bad education. Although our education system is flawed, pumping more money into it will not help. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I blame the parents – or lack thereof – for the lack of motivation in children.

  5. SteveBrooklineMA says:

    I’m just as tired of the “we need better teachers” talking point as I am with the “we need more money/computers” talking point. I blame the parents. The idea that we can make up for lack of parental involvement with inspiring teachers or computers is nonsense.

  6. Polichinello says:

    And tracking, tracking, tracking.

    Won’t happen. Once tracking exposes racial imbalances in learning ability, and it will, the whole thing will blow up in litigation.

  7. JC Penny says:

    Individual performance overcome by class envy and “acceptance” eduction. I am a product of public education of the 70s-90s. I was intelligent enough to recognize it.

    Given that and the mass regression to thought-education in America, I still hold fast to my belief that there will always be enough of the smart kids in the classroom to learn instead of assimilate.

    Follow the money. Our kids will.


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