School and Technology

Another one of those infopiles of loosely-related pseudo knowledge.

I’m reminded of the story of how prisoners in ancient China soon died if they were sent to one of the better prisons, but survived a lot longer if sent to poor prisons (have no idea if the story has any basis in reality). According to the story, the better prisons fed the inmates white rice – considered better quality stuff, but with much of the nutrition removed. Poorer prisoners got brown rice – low class food, but with much more nutrition in it.

So, is it a good idea to have kids spend hours on computers in school? Or are we just giving them white rice, as it were?

Note that our technological boom over the last few decades has had a lot to do with technological learning being almost completely unstructured. Just look at the lives of the various pioneers – Bill Joy stands out for having had an academic career, of sorts, but even he mostly did what he wanted to do. The others are a bunch of drop-outs and misfits who spent a lot more time by themselves tinkering in the garage or pounding on a keyboard. If only they’d have had access to a modern educator, we’d all still be using slide rulers…

So, yea – providing computer access to school kids is a great idea, so long as it’s completely unstructured: let them surf what they want (within legal limits), let them figure out what programs interest them, let them figure out how to use those programs, let them ask for help when they need it: that’s an educational program proven to work.

All the computers in the world won’t help kids learn much if they’re managed the same way other subjects are managed. We need to let them chew on brown rice, as it were.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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