A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Bad education?
Previous entry: Exam results in South Africa are bad but the exams themselves may actually be quite good
Sunday December 30 2007

According to this, I’m wrong about those laptops for poor people with green sticking up bits, which are doing very well in Peru:

Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago.

A group of children have breakfast at a public dining room reading information on their laptop in Peru.

These offspring of peasant families whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the $188 laptops - people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books - can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops.

At breakfast, they’re already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits.

At night, they’re dozing off in front of them - if they’ve managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines.

I hope (a) that this is true, and (b) that the excitement lasts.

If it is and if it does, then what we may be witnessing here is the coming together of high technology and people who, if they don’t work hard, get educated, etc., will live lives of grinding poverty and who all know this.

My doubts about computers in education are the result of watching what happens when they are thrown at relatively unmotivated children here in Britain, where I think they make rather little difference.  It would appear to be different among seriously poor people, or at any rate among some of them.  Motivation is everything, with computers.

I will remain alert for more news about such schemes.  Meanwhile, thanks to Adriana for the link.

Motivation is everything, with learning.

I don’t know about the throwing of computers at unmotivated children in Britain - are you talking about poor children, or all of them? Schools are doing great stuff with computers in the classroom. If anything saves institutionalised education, it will be the computer-led individualisation of learning.

Posted by Alice Bachini-Smith on 30 December 2007

Alice

Early commenters at a new blog are special objects of gratitude, so particular thanks for yours.

Have you any personal experience or links to the experiences of others concerning this great computer stuff?  I’d really like to know, but please ignore if the request is an irritation.

My sense of what computers are (or are not) achieving in UK classrooms is based on: lots of grumbling from teachers, me personally observing very little happening with a lot of computers at that primary school I used to visit for two days a week, and newspaper reports of money spent on computers being wasted.

But perhaps these latter stories are the exceptions that make the news, and my prejudice against trying to combine old school schooling with new technology is running away with me.

Obviously this is a very important educational story, and I am eager to learn about it, and tell it as I learn of it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 30 December 2007

No links, I’m afraid, just news from family and friends with kids in the schools happily and apparently very productively using the computers. They do a lot, but I don’t think it’s newsy stuff, just taken for granted.

Why should there be a problem combining schooling and computers, though? It sounds counter-intuitive to me to expect such a thing. Change happens, including in schools. Once upon a time they had to use slates instead of exercise books, etc.

Posted by Alice Bachini-Smith on 01 January 2008

J.P. Rangaswami on encouraging all kinds of reading- he adds a comment about OLPC below.

http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2007/12/31/musing-quietly-about-literacy/

Posted by Alice Bachini-Smith on 02 January 2008
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