As if the hegemony of laptops in school is not enough, Prof. Blanchard notes the iPod craze in Michigan. The other day, after my laptop post, I received an email from Dr. Terry Robertson of the Communications Department at USD. He graciously gave me permission to print his email and use his name. Here is what Prof. Robertson wrote me:
You and I are often times different sides of the political isle; however, I want to commend you on the commentary concerning laptops that I read this AM on your blog. Administrator’s obsessive need to throw money toward technology as panacea for education astounds me and this could be seen exhibit A. Indeed, I would argue that laptops often hinder rather than facilitate the educational process.
It seems to me that the government of the state of South Dakota could find better use for the monies it collects from its citizens than to hand out “technotoys” to students. Jefferson’s thoughts concerning an educated citizenry are becoming superfluous in a world where students understand research, knowledge, experience, and wisdom as simply a Google click.
Just this week I was in a meeting with some folks from the Board of Regents. They noted the lack of language skills on the part of our students, largely owning from the dearth of foreign language education in South Dakota schools. It is foolish to expect to get foreign language competency from people who first encounter a language as 18 year-old college freshman. The time to start is in the third grade, not the thirteenth. Foreign language education not only gives knowledge of that language but increases the skill in English as the student learns how language works in general. One wonders how much more we could help our students by hiring French teachers instead of giving them electronic toys to play with.
I should point out that all these opinion are mine, not those of my employers.
Prof. Roberstson, I swear that post on Jefferson and education is coming, but I forgot my Jefferson book in my office. Ack! Maybe next week.