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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Computers are no substitute for teaching | The Detroit News

Photo: Kenneth Calvert - Hillsdale College
Ken Calvert, headmaster of Hillsdale Academy insist, "It might appear counterintuitive, but more tech in the classroom is counterproductive."

As students return to elementary and secondary school classrooms across Michigan and throughout the country, teachers and administrators are debating the expanded use — and, more tellingly, the educational value — of technology in those classrooms."

That debate comes amid reports, for example, that Montgomery County, Maryland, an upscale Washington, D.C., suburb, is continuing its multiyear rollout of Chromebook laptops in classrooms. The Washington Post recently reported that about 27,000 new Chromebooks are to arrive in the county’s middle and high schools in 2016-2017.

Not to be outdone, in neighboring Fairfax County, Virginia, the public school system is buying 7,800 laptops for students at six high schools and several elementary and middle schools. The aim, according to the Post, is “to connect every student with a device that can be used for classroom activities and homework.”

By contrast, Hillsdale Academy, an independent K-12 day school in Hillsdale, Michigan, expressly avoids the overuse of technology in its classrooms.

It might appear counterintuitive, but more tech in the classroom is counterproductive.

The educational philosophy Hillsdale Academy, which takes a classical approach, focuses not on the impersonal “interaction” between students and laptops, but rather on the relationship between human beings; namely, between the teacher and the student. Research is proving that the “old school” methods are now (or should I say, again) “cutting edge.”

On the surface, this approach might appear Luddite. However, we’re not suggesting that classroom tech is of no value. It has its place, but it should not be seen as the new sine qua non of education.

There is no compelling evidence that “laptops for all” is an educational cure-all, any more than the emphasis on a “TV in every classroom” proved successful in the 1980s. To the contrary, the academic track record at Hillsdale Academy, and similar schools across the nation that eschew such trendy nostrums, proves the opposite.

Hillsdale Academy, located in rural Michigan, does not require entrance exams, yet its graduates’ ACT scores are consistently in the top five among the 800 high schools, both public and private, in Michigan. Its graduates are accepted into prestigious colleges — Princeton, Stanford, Harvard, Notre Dame, the University of Michigan and others.

What produces those results? Instead of relying on calculators and computers, our students delve into the math and science that inform the machine, the math and physics that serve as the foundations for the technology.

Source: The Detroit News

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Nikos Andriotis said...

An interesting perspective. Facts as such are facts but I'm wondering about what would be the perfect formula of blended learning then. It seems like human interaction should be the context of the knowledge transfer as well as, providing directions of how to use the tech.

It's a really interesting case study, I'd like to in-depth with it. Also, particularly interesting here is what may be the drawbacks of using laptops i.e. what kind of competence can be omitted this way.

Helge Scherlund said...

Hi Nikos Andriotis,

Thank you for dropping by.
I appreciate your comment.