Category Archives: computers in school

Turning Schools Around

There are many students in America who attend school every day but rarely get to use a computer. These are usually the students who attend school in the largest and poorest and most diverse school districts, often in the center of our cities. We cannot expect these students to progress in math and science and compete with more privileged children who use computers almost as soon as they are born.  With all the aid we give to schools why aren’t we making sure that students without computers are given lots of computer access in as early a grade as possible? These students should take computer classes which allow them to work with graphics, gaming, word processing, researching, programming and even the “nuts and bolts” of repairing computers.
America’s students should have computers that they can take home with them, that become their own, and we should make sure wireless or broadband computer internet connections are available to all students in the United States. We throw a lot of money at schools through large scale government assistance for programs that we hope will improve the chances of more successful schooling for more students. These monies are not always spent in the most efficient ways and they often don’t get to the schools that need them the most. The returns from putting money into making sure schools were full of up-to-date technology and that it gets used to best advantage might be greater than what we are getting for our program dollars as they are currently spent.
 I taught school for many years in our downtown and I met many students who hardly ever got to touch a computer. I don’t hear this discussed when we listen to experts talk about how we can improve our schools, but I did see a special presentation on CNN about a charter school where every student has a private cubicle surrounded by a low wall with her/his own computer. Perhaps they did not spend the entire day in front of the computer, but they did most of their work on their computers. These students were doing exceedingly well and they looked forward to school and felt that it was relevant to their lives. I cannot understand why we would not adopt a similar model for all of our schools.
It doesn’t look like computers are going away and experience shows that people can learn effectively using computers. Not only is it possible that it would raise test scores and graduation rates, but it might help resolve many of the behavior problems so prevalent in our schools. It provides a natural way to explore a great deal of science and mathematics and can make a contribution in almost every other subject field, but it is action-based and students don’t seem to see it as pedantic.
US schools ranked “average” in a recent worldwide study. We have all heard those other numbers: we rank 27th in math and 21st in science. This could easily be a great goal for a humanitarian group of wealthy people who are concerned that America is falling down the ladder of accomplishment relative to other countries around the world. These are obviously people who are interested in schools and who feel that a great education is very important. An infusion of cash for adding technology everywhere in our schools might turn the numbers around.