blog When your writer got his primary and high school education — in the far flung remote town of Broken Hill — there were very few computers to be found at the school that I attended. Access to these mythical machines was only through dedicated ‘computer rooms’. As such, I have to say that I am rather jealous of students in today’s education system, for whom having their own personal laptop and/or table is the normal modus operandi.
But according to at least one school, these new-fangled devices are a “waste of money” and should be banned. The headmaster of Sydney’s prestigious Grammar School, John Vallance, has told The Australian (we recommend you click here for the full article) that the devices have been banned from his school and that Kevin Rudd’s $2.4 billion Digital Education Revolution (which put laptops in schools nationwide) was a waste of money:
“It didn’t really do anything except enrich Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard and Apple,’’ he said. “They’ve got very powerful lobby influence in the educational community.’’
To a certain extent, I agree with Vallance — I have children myself, and parents and teachers need to very carefully monitor how children use addictive forms of technology such as personal computing devices and the Internet. In addition, I agree the Digital Education Revolution was poorly managed, and ignored the real cost of managing laptops in schools. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from school-based IT managers on just this subject.
However, on the other hand, I would suggest that banning the devices entirely is probably going too far. We are rapidly approaching a stage in history where paper and pens will no longer be used in our education system — being replaced with electronic devices. And, of course, the workforce is already almost completely digitised. Forcing students off electronic platforms is not great preparation for life after school.
What do you think — how should this delicate balance be managed? Has Sydney Grammar School done the right thing, or gone too far?