Happy New Year & New World

 It was a sad season, this past holiday and for that reason I couldn't wait to pack up the tree and assorted swag on January 1st.  It has all been stashed away with hopes for a better tomorrow.  This is one reason you haven't heard from us much lately -  since we tend to be a light-hearted blog (in our ironic sort of way) we just didn't seem to have much to say.  That and in light of so much sadness in the world - does it really matter if Sally calls you Mrs. Smith or "Hey you?"  What's really important is that Sally is around to yell at you at all. 

Another reason this humble correspondent hasn't had much to say lately is due to something going on locally.  A few weeks back all fourth grade parents in our town received an email telling us about a proposed curriculum change.  Starting in September it will be mandatory that all 5th graders in our town's seven elementary schools have their own iPads.  This will be a partnership (that means families need to buy the iPads unless need is demonstrated) and the children are to use these "educational tools" in the classroom and at home.  My extensive thoughts on this can be found over at TheSwellesleyReport.  Suffice to say, I find it all a bit concerning and the arguments in favor less than convincing.

 Image from Wired.co.uk

There was a presentation last night and the parents of the children in the pilot program were most enthusiastic.  They love it and thought it added much to the classroom and helped prepare them for middle school.  Children were able to (among other things) build their own websites, create their ideal societies and present them to peers via video - sounds great.  But is this compelling enough to mandate families purchase iPads for ten year olds?  Moreover, I was disappointed by the response to the parents who raised concerns.  Essentially the response was 'this is already happening, kids use iPads for games - we will teach them to use them as tools, this is the world today, other towns are doing it, this will close the digital gap,  you should get on board.'  There was very little discussion about the rightness of giving ten year olds these devices or the merits of 1:1 screen education vs. collaborative learning. Well, here's hoping I am wrong and it is a brilliant success.

More and more, these days, this modern mother finds herself feeling like a salmon swimming up stream.   Then again, does any of it really matter as long as the children are safe in school?


Elizabeth said...

I read your post at TheSwellesleyReport and wholeheartedly agree with you. I hope you will keep us updated on how this turns out. My daughter is in 2nd grade and this year her elementary school bought 30 iPads for her school (public school, K-5, in Wisconsin). Each class has computer lab time once per week, for about 30-40 minutes, and that is when they get to use the iPads. To me, that is plenty of computer time for this age group.

EBB said...

Thank you, Elizabeth for making me feel a little less like the Lunatic Fringe. I applaud your school's measured approach. I will keep you posted. Thanks for reading. EBB

Kate said...

I just read your opinion at TheSwellesleyReport and I am definitely on your side on all counts. One might first wonder if Apple is any way involved with this push of proprietary technology. Anyone profiting from this little initiative? I don't think a school has any right to mandate a student purchase an ipad. This is an inappropriate learning tool for a child. An ipad is NOT a substitute for a teacher or a collaborative learning group. If a parent chooses to load up educational apps for his or her child on his or her own personal ipad to use during free time after homework is completed, terrific! But don't waste their time at school staring at a tablet. It's absurd.

Anonymous said...

Well, we got all those Smart Boards and how effective have they actually been in improving the elementary education in WPS?
My now 6th grade son said that last year kids who brought in their personal iPads to "aid" in their learning were actually spending a great deal of time gaming away.

Anonymous said...

I would support this initiative if I felt the district could educate our children given the tools they currently have. With such poor MCAS scores this year, I wonder why parents aren't more concerned with that rather than instituting an instituting a technology that most of our children either already know or will learn in a matter of minutes or days (can't all our kids already program the dvr or use our phones without a tutorial?) I'm not buying the argument that the ipad will teach our children to do research. Are you kidding me? I need to see more data before you can sell me this bill of goods.

Mia said...

I think you are absolutely right in being concerned that giving 5th graders ipads will turn them into "mindless drones"! We need kids to be connecting -- offline. They will have many pulls towards technology in life, but must we start at age 10?

Keep swimming up stream! If you turn around, I bet you will see a bunch of us other salmon swimming right behind you.

Kate said...

Let me just add that at the school where I work, some genius bought a software program for which they have accounts to log in and "listen" to books (terrible decodable ones) being read to them on their headphones while they follow along with their eyes on the screens. Last I heard this was called "put your child on your lap and read to them".

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