Parents Still Scared of Laptops in Classroom

From WSJ (via Slashdot)

Detractors say that the kids are wasting too much time online browsing dangerous sites, instant messaging friends, and posting to Myspace. Parents are worried that serious learning is being neglected in the quest to ‘dazzle up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books.’ Some parents however are ‘enthusiastic laptop proponents,’ one saying the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son ‘master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation.

The worst part is that there is a choice between books and classroom materials and laptops. I wonder how education spending compares in resources building schools in Iraq and Afghanistan than for children here in the proud United States.
I’m a parent of teachers so I’m a bit biased. I just think public education in this country is a massive disaster and No Child Left Behind is only going to make everything much worse. I wonder how much worse our public schools can get. My dad predicted this ‘love of testing’ tripe decades ago.
I think the single largest barrier to a child’s education is their parents.
Uneducated parents don’t know the skills to succeed academically so they aren’t able to enforce study habits and cultivate their kid’s learning. Uneducated parents also can feel threatened by a child’s becoming smarter than them – and possibly becoming more mobile and leaving the family or community. My dad’s slogan for public school education is: “Give us your best and brightest and we’ll have them down to average in no time.”
Teachers spend so much time meeting the emotional needs of their students that there’s no time for learning. Of course, my views are colored by being in the Indiana school system. We had high schools where they didn’t teach anything beyond geometry.
I’m also an advocate of tracking – that is, having ‘advanced classes’ or a ‘gifted and talented’ program. I think it is stupid to lump all the kids together simply to make everybody feel good. How can normal or advanced kids learn when the emotionally disabled kid is chewing the door off the handles? I started fourth grade just as they started their GT program and it is refreshing to be with kids who actually care about their education.
Let’s face it: if it was kids who could dribble a basketball faster than anybody else, they’d bend over backwards to make sure they had whatever they needed to succeed.

One thought on “Parents Still Scared of Laptops in Classroom

  1. Carol Timms

    “Under-Involved” may be a more useful description when trying to improve schools than “uneducated.” The reason I say this is because there are plenty of well-educated parents, and well-meaning parents I might add, who feel strongly that the use of laptop computers in schools is wrong. Why do they feel this way? Of course there are probably lots of reasons, that fall into several categories. One of those categories is simply that they don’t know what is happening in the schools. Because they are not aware of what is going on in the classroom and they are thinking of their child as a student rather than a future member of the workforce, they are under-involved.
    For many parents and others who have a stake in the output of our schools, the institution might as well be a black box. Their child goes in, they get processed-through in ways that are sometimes mysterious, and they come out on the other side, presumably prepared to be self-sufficient in society. The parents put the artwork on the refrigerator and see the report cards, and assume that the system of education that they went through is working fine for their student. So with one part mystery, and one part assumption, what standard do they have to use to measure whether or not a particular school is the right one for their child? The only yardstick they are offered at the moment is test results.
    What schools across America must do in order to relieve the need for high stakes tests and to improve the experience for their clients, teachers, students and parents, is to invite parents to be more involved in the classroom. Andy Wibbels writes “Let’s face it: if it was kids who could dribble a basketball faster than anybody else, they’d bend over backwards to make sure they had whatever they needed to succeed.” Part of the reason why this is a truism is because the schools themselves don’t have the same partnership for the education of students with the stakeholders in the community like they do with the athletic boosters. Yes, P.T.A.’s provide valuable, dedicated support of education. Their contribution can only be applauded. And, it is not the same as the involvement and passion of the ubiquitous sports boosters. When the cheerleading of curricula becomes equal with the ballyhoo for the basketball team, our society will have achieved the community involvement in the classroom that will mean most parents are fully-educated and involved.
    How is this lofty goal achieved? One certain step is that personal relationships must be built by all the stakeholders. Ironically, technology offers another possible answer. Through the use of web sites for the teachers, blogging by teachers and parents, and e-mail, to name a few technological tools, everyone can cooperate in the education of the students. Everyone can be current about where each of their children are in their studies and can contribute to getting the children to their destination – the understanding and application of the concepts they need to complete their grade.
    Just as every student has a slightly different learning style than every other student, every citizen has a slightly different view of what must be done to improve our schools. The great news is that when all citizens are involved in a dialogue about what we can each do cooperatively to make things better in schools, we are all educated best.

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