One Laptop Per Child

Kevin Kinsey kdk at
Mon Nov 12 11:31:17 PST 2007

Chuck Robey wrote:

>>> I am usually not the one to bring up these things but I feel very
>>> strongly about this. Starting Monday, November 12 this website is
>>> offering a give one get one deal. I believe the money will be well
>>> invested. YMMV
>> That is a difficult issue, while this is an opportunity, I doubt this
>> is the most needed thing to provide education. We are talking giving
>> laptop to people who do not even have electricity in some cases...
> You ought to actually _visit_ one or more of the schools that have 
> practical computers for the kids.  At least in my own experience, well, 
> it's very disillusioning.  The teachers have only a vague notion about 
> what a compuiter is, so basically the students are given some  games to 
> waste their time with, and graded on how quiet they are while playing. 
> The teachers themselves are usually actually frightened of the machines, 
>  so they react negatively to anyone who volunteers to teach computers.
> I wish it wasn't this way.  Maybe it's just in the schools I visited? If 
> so, anyone have a better experience?  Until I hear of some, I won't 
> contribute to any "computers for kids" deal, because  it only benefits 
> big computer companies, who sell the machines, not the kids.

I'd say that it is possible your observations have clued you in on
a large problem.  Of course, it's likely not that way everywhere, but
one result of a lack of teacher education re: computers is that people
tend to think that they are computer literate if they can handle an
office suite and use a pointy-clicky interface to build web "pages"
--- which explains a few things about the culture at large.

Another problem is that use of the Internet for research in
writing papers, etc. often misses the crucial "old school" step
of actually writing notes based on the books your read before
you begin the paper.  Recently I read a report by a 9th grader that
was composed mostly of direct quotes from Wikipedia, et al, with
no attribution whatsoever.  "Copy n Paste" may work in elementary
art classes, but it's no good in academic research unless great
pains are taken to ensure understanding and proper attribution.

And, this may be near the real heart of the issue.  I don't think
that many school administrators feel that games, educational or not,
are the reason that schools should have computers.  I think that, in
large extent, computers were added when some of them discovered that
the Internet could give you more volumes of information than the
school library, without leaving your seat or requiring a hall pass.

And that is why teachers should be a little more geeky, perhaps.
Plugging a child's computer into the network without knowledgeable
and *personal* guidance will pretty much guarantee that most kids
end up on the baser end of the 'Net, rather than the best.  And,
for the most part, teachers are no less busy than they were 10,
20, or 30 years ago.

My $.02,

Kevin Kinsey
There has been a little distress selling on the stock exchange.
		-- Thomas W. Lamont, October 29, 1929

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