Womankind #10: tiger

Smart schools ban computers

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by Womankind mag on November 8, 2016

One of Australia’s elite private schools, Sydney Grammar, has banned laptops and tablets in school, requiring students to handwrite their essays instead. Sydney Grammar’s headmaster, Dr John Vallance, a Cambridge scholar, believes that computers and tablets at school are distracting, inhibit social activity and conversation, and have not brought any measurable benefit for students. Billions of dollars have been funnelled to technology companies in recent years to buy laptops, interactive whiteboards, and digital computers (that regularly break, become superseded, and encourage teachers to slacken off). Effectively, powerful technology lobby groups have siphoned off funds that could have been spent on staff and other resources. Calling it a “scandalous waste of money”, Dr Vallance reportedly said that, in hindsight, this unprecedented surge in funding classroom technology would be viewed as a “huge fraud”. The headmaster’s views concur with an OECD report showing that heavy users of computers in the classroom “do a lot worse in most learning outcomes”; furthermore, countries with the highest internet usage in class, including Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden have suffered “significant
declines” in reading performance, while the UK now ranks behind Poland, Estonia, and Vietnam based on the Programme for International Student Assessment. Meanwhile, students in Korea and Hong Kong, who take a more cautious approach to technology, are topping performance charts. Dr Vallance estimates that it costs between $250,000 to $500,000 to equip a moderate-sized high school with technology gadgets – in his view this is a waste of resources for cash-strapped schools.

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