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April 1, 2007
Vol. 64
No. 7

The Best of the Blog

      In this column, we publish selected comments from the ASCD blog and from letters to the editor. Some comments are condensed for space or edited for clarity. To join the conversation, go to www.ascd.org/blog or e-mail us atel@ascd.org.
      With its child-centered design and a cost of $150 each, the new XO computer aims to change the distribution of technology to children in developing countries. (See the ASCD blog entry athttp://ascd.typepad.com/blog/2007/01/hugs_and_kisses.html.)
      Readers responded to a question about how children should use computers.
      Although the computer can assist in many things, I believe that, for very young children, its use stalls development in a number of areas. Computers have a certain logic that is not applicable to many life situations. Young children make sense of their world through story. They learn to speak by interacting with adults. They learn kindness through the give-and-take of playing. They learn creativity and decision making by trying new things and deciding what they will do next in their play. I do not believe that computers develop large vocabularies in young children; make sense of the world through story; or teach people kindness, creativity, or decision making, except in the most limited possible ways.
      I am in 30 day-care classrooms a month. They all have computers. Today I saw a 4-year-old using a computer game to shoot down airplanes. The child barely speaks. My son, an atmospheric chemist who does complex computer modeling, didn't have a computer until he was in 5th grade and didn't go on the Internet until high school. He uses computers at the highest level and didn't miss a thing.
      —Talmage M. Steele
      We need both technology as an age-appropriate tool and the development of social skills, civic responsibility, and interpersonal skills. But aren't the computer and the cell phone catalysts for the development of new kinds of language and literacy? Shouldn't we be excited by the potential of such tools and learn how to exploit their advantages rather than leave them on the shelf? The new generation will not leave them on the shelf. Let's get on board!
      —Phil Billing
      While I love technology, I would love to see it removed from students' hands until they are juniors or seniors in high school. Kids need to learn eye-hand coordination by writing and drawing. They need to learn how to spell without spell check, and, most important, they do not need to be “trained” in instant messaging (IM) or text messaging (TM). We are seeing the effects of IM/TM in college classrooms, and that is not the time for students to learn communication skills they should have perfected in the lower grades.
      —Theresa Aberle
      A 3rd grade teacher in my school is beginning to use digital lockers with student Gaggle accounts and just received a SMART Board. She stopped in to tell me how exciting it all was, then paused and said she wished there was some way for each student to have a computer. At $150 each, those XO laptops certainly could be affordable. Students should be using computers to increase reading and writing skills and for creating, exploring, and sharing ideas. Computers can be used appropriately by very young students, as well as older students. Educators and parents need to guide students as they use technology as a learning tool.
      —Sue Kerns

      This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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