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Cut-Price Education in California…

Posted Sep 14 2009 8:17pm

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always struck me as just a tad dumb (probably explains how he became a politician), but today (June 9 – I’m still offline at the time of writing), he’s confirmed it.

Schoolchildren in California are, he says, no longer to be provided with textbooks, as everything they need is available online. Really? Everything? Having, over the years, run searches on Google, and its predecessors, that have come up totally blank, I can assure him that everything is not available. And, as anyone with half a brain knows, there is an awful lot online that’s just not true, and is often barely sane.

Think about the wider implications of this, though. How many schools have a computer per pupil? Pretty damn few, I’ll wager, and providing computers for all is vastly more expensive than buying books, and without a computer each, how can they study adequately? Kids with reasonably wealthy parents will doubtless have their own laptops, which will make them instant targets for the have-nots. Hell, kids in the US have been murdered for their trainers – how much more tempting would a laptop be?

Then there’s the restrictions that this policy will impose. You can use a textbook whenever and wherever you wish, but unless you have a laptop, and there’s universal wi-fi access to the Net, you can’t study online just anywhere and at any time you wish. And what about the online distractions?

Even an adult, like me, when rummaging through Google, can be taken off at a tangent, away from the subject I’m really interested in, so how much more susceptible to distraction would kids be? And, spending so much time online, they can’t be supervised 100%, so how can they be kept away from material unsuitable for kids (and that’s not limited to porn by any means; there are far worse things)?

In terms of cost and convenience, for the foreseeable future at least, computers (or even e-book readers), won’t replace books, and in a school environment, books will remain the best option for a long time to come, in terms of cost if nothing else. And I doubt e-book readers would survive long in a school environment.

I haven’t been able to get the full info on this, but unless California is going to fund a computers and Net access for all scheme – yeah, like that’s going to happen – then I strongly suspect that this is simply a cynical cost-cutting exercise, to the considerable detriment of kids from poor communities.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Terminegger really is as dumb as a stump, and actually believes what he said. And that’s worrying on so many levels…

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always struck me as just a tad dumb (probably explains how he became a politician), but today (June 9 – I’m still offline at the time of writing), he’s confirmed it.

Schoolchildren in California are, he says, no longer to be provided with textbooks, as everything they need is available online. Really? Everything? Having, over the years, run searches on Google, and its predecessors, that have come up totally blank, I can assure him that everything is not available. And, as anyone with half a brain knows, there is an awful lot online that’s just not true, and is often barely sane.

Think about the wider implications of this, though. How many schools have a computer per pupil? Pretty damn few, I’ll wager, and providing computers for all is vastly more expensive than buying books, and without a computer each, how can they study adequately? Kids with reasonably wealthy parents will doubtless have their own laptops, which will make them instant targets for the have-nots. Hell, kids in the US have been murdered for their trainers – how much more tempting would a laptop be?

Then there’s the restrictions that this policy will impose. You can use a textbook whenever and wherever you wish, but unless you have a laptop, and there’s universal wi-fi access to the Net, you can’t study online just anywhere and at any time you wish. And what about the online distractions?

Even an adult, like me, when rummaging through Google, can be taken off at a tangent, away from the subject I’m really interested in, so how much more susceptible to distraction would kids be? And, spending so much time online, they can’t be supervised 100%, so how can they be kept away from material unsuitable for kids (and that’s not limited to porn by any means; there are far worse things)?

In terms of cost and convenience, for the foreseeable future at least, computers (or even e-book readers), won’t replace books, and in a school environment, books will remain the best option for a long time to come, in terms of cost if nothing else. And I doubt e-book readers would survive long in a school environment.

I haven’t been able to get the full info on this, but unless California is going to fund a computers and Net access for all scheme – yeah, like that’s going to happen – then I strongly suspect that this is simply a cynical cost-cutting exercise, to the considerable detriment of kids from poor communities.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Terminegger really is as dumb as a stump, and actually believes what he said. And that’s worrying on so many levels…

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