Neil Gupta

Reaction to iPads in School

466 words • 2 minutes to read

via Fraser Speirs

Some questions or, should I say, assumptions commonly arise in these comment threads. I'd like to answer some:

  1. Did my taxes pay for this outrage?

    Not one penny of it. We charge parents a fee and cover our costs that way. Incidentally, those fees come out of money that's already been taxed to pay for that child's state school place that's not being used.

  2. Are you no longer teaching children to write?

    No, kids are still learning to write. Consider, though, that a child starting school this year will not leave until 2023. Now think about how much you hand-write today and imagine how much less you'll be writing in 2023. I can't see handwriting retaining its privileged position forever.

  3. Are you no longer reading books?

    We're experimenting with eBooks and I'll report back on how that goes. I can guarantee you, though, that school pupils rarely value the "rich texture of paper". Most school books get printed on stock that looks more like a slightly stiffer sheet of Andrex than the weighty, luxuriant pages of a fine-art book.

    Many printed materials for Scottish education are not availale in electronic form so, even if we wanted to eradicate the paper book, it will take some time.

  4. Won't the children lack "proper" computer skills?

    Define 'proper', 'computer' and 'skills'. Now define them as commonly understood in the year 2023, which is when a pupil starting today will leave school.

    I've never taught to specific software packages and never will. Of course, we have to use actual real software, but there's a big difference between "teaching Excel" and "teaching spreadsheets". Don't forget we still have MacBooks and iMacs too.

    This is a constant tension in educational technology: do you teach for the current "business environment" or do you teach for learning? I prefer the latter. I'm not doing this just to produce the next generation of cubicle fodder.

    A child graduating our school this year started school when the Apple Pippin was still current. How can I possibly know what specific technologies will be used in their career? It's beyond absurd to even pose the question.

  5. Aren't you experimenting with children's futures?

    Yup, but that's nothing compared to the experiment that all of Scotland is engaged in with Curriculum for Excellence.

    This might not work. In three years we might not renew our lease and we could easily go back to a situation where kids get an hour a week using computers. Does that sound like it will be a defensible idea in 2013? Not to me.

This is actually a tamer reaction than I saw to my university introducing an iPad program. Why so much resentment and jealousy to changes in technology?

Written on September 7, 2010 in Chicago.