Silicon Valley rejects computer aids for schools

While Silicon Valley’s biggest names hawk their products to education authorities around the world, they secretly do not believe that computers are necessary in the classroom.

The chief technology officer of eBay,  Mark Carges,  sends his kids to a low tech nine-classroom school in Los Altos. So do employees of Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

The Waldorf School of the Peninsula is famous for its 100 year old training method and does not use computers at all. In fact they are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

The schools teach using physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks with a similar philosophy to the Steiner schools.

AP interviewed a Google employee, Alan Eagle, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf primary school. He said that it was ridiculous to suggest that an app on an iPad could teach his kids to read or do sums.

He seemed proud that his fifth grade daughter did not know how to use Google and his high school son is just learning.

Eagle does not see a contradiction between what he does and what he wants for his kids. He points out that if he worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated-R movies, he wouldn’t want his kids to see them until they were 17.’

The argument is that computer skills can be picked up later, while real learning takes a bit of time and needs to be conducted as early as possible. According to AP there seems to be some evidence that keeping kids away from computers until their later years is producing some quality academics who “know stuff” rather than those who can “find stuff”.