Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
I guess people make a living publishing articles like this, which doesn't seem really fair to me. The gist of the article is that computers harm education, mostly because they deaden childrens' encounters with the real world. The author cites what seems to be example after example - the (uncited) Fuchs and Woessman report, the cancellation of recess, the glee with which students set about hacking the school network. The idea is that children are being shown a false reality. For example, "If computers discourage a sense of belonging and the hard work needed to interact responsibly with others, they replace it with a promise of power." Or this: "the steady diet of virtual trips to the Antarctic, virtual climbs to the summit of Mount Everest, and trips into cyber-orbit that represent one technological high after another—generate only vicarious thrills. The student doesn't actually soar above the Earth, doesn't trek across icy terrain, doesn't climb a mountain." But, honestly, the author is selling us a load here. Who among us ever had the childhood depicted here? One where we were always good, stayed out of trouble, acted responsibly, and climbed Mt. Everest during recess? The author argues, "the more external power children have at their disposal, the more difficult it will be for them to develop the inner capacities to use that power wisely." I see just the opposite as being true - for after all, how can you learn to use power when you have none?

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 03, 2022 07:57 a.m.