The No Tech School

Here’s an idea: let’s all move to Colonial Williamsburg and churn some butter. Or maybe we should all buy horses. Wait, wait, I’ve got an idea: let’s head to the landfill, dig out all the Walkmans that landed there and listen to Quiet Riot cassettes after cuffing our jeans and writing our pen pals that we met at camp that one summer. Also, let’s pretend like abstinence education actually works. STDs and Teen Pregnancy don’t exist!

FFS this Guardian article has me livid. Read it before moving on. I’ll wait.

Do you understand why I’m livid enough that I’m thinking of heading to the Acorn School to stand in front of it with protest signs like pro-lifers at Planned Parenthood? There are so many things wrong with this.

“annual fees of up to £11,000”

Amazing that rich people are so stupid.

“The pupils make their own exercise books”

So what’s that tuition for? Nordic walking sticks?

“…a global study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that investing heavily in computers and new technology in the classroom did not improve pupils’ performance”

Go ahead and click that report URL because it clearly, no duh, states that buying technology and integrating it into teaching and learning are not the same thing. Obviously, we need to invest in adult learning so that educators have the confidence and skill to integrate technology in a pedagogically productive way. Technology is about so much more than the hardware we purchase.

Also, about that waking up at night to use social media research, can I get a control group puhleaze? I used to sneak out of my house in the middle of the night to sit in a parking lot with my friends. So did every one I knew in 8th grade. I was tired too. “Social media” was my pager because even texting wasn’t a thing yet.

Moving on. No tv until the age of 12? No Internet until 14? I have a lot of responses to that. Mainly:

But also:

It’s not that I think we should be plopping kids in front of the TV for hours on end. However, as with all media, television is not inherently evil. Ditto for the Internet.

Then there’s a quote from a dad that says

“It’s a big ask for parents…But it’s worth it, because the results in terms of how the children are is very special…”

His daughter adds,

“…I like the fact I’ve got an imagination that lots of kids have not.”

Well. Hrm. Ok. This pretentious comment sounds like it came straight from her father’s mouth. [Deletes too personal rant on Kevin’s fathering]

Edward, the kid who reads about computers since he’s not allowed to use one, is the hero of this article. He’s rolling his eyes at this ridiculousness and taking his learning into his own hands. Bravo, Edward. I mean this genuinely. At least one kid in this school might be able to prepare himself for the real world.

There’s more. It’s not getting better. Janice, Zoe’s mom, despite having a husband in IT says,

“With technology growing and changing at the rate it is, imagine how it’s all going to continue to accelerate in to the future. Anything we teach them now will be outdated.”

Teaching kids how to think about technology and be digital citizens is not going to become outdated. There are literacies to be explored, we have to teach people how to live and participate with new technologies. In 50 years the only thing that’s going to be outdated is the idea that you can get by in this world without some basic understandings about tech, networks, human communications.

“I think it’s important that children are exposed to new technologies that will become part of their lives, in order for them to get the most out of their opportunities. However, schools shouldn’t feel they have to lead on this,”

Tom Bennett, the Tsar in charge of stunting emotional development in all British children, says. He adds some crap about the budget and ends with,

“schools shouldn’t feel that they have to plug an imagined skills gap that often doesn’t exist.”

Emphasis is mine.

Do you know why you see a therapist, have low self esteem, are anxious and worried about everything? Why you stress out about finances, the government, the world in general? Why you feel a need to fit? Why you wear masks, struggle to make sense of it all, feel lost?

It’s because when you were a kid you were constantly told not to be yourself, follow the rules, sit down, shut up, I’m in charge, you need to be quiet, that question is irrelevant. When you grew up, it turned out that you were equal to everyone else, that no one has any answers, that your voice matters too. But systems like this school and people like this fucking “Behavior Tsar” sucked the marrow out of curiosity and play, didn’t teach you the right things, didn’t prepare you.

Our jobs as adults, as educators, as humans are to prepare our youth for the uncertain world. We should be teaching them skills that allow them to participate and explore that world, and we should be teaching them how to think for themselves. Because we do not have to conform. We should not have to conform.

Good gravy this article cut into me deeply. It’s not about keeping kids away from technology, it’s about controlling humans. [Grumble, grumble dystopian future…It’s happening. OMG it’s happening.]

  1 comment for “The No Tech School

  1. October 4, 2015 at 9:11 am

    My original comment was going to be entirely in agreement with you – but on reflection I am thinking that (nearly) all schools are either depriving or indoctrinating children (or both) – whether that is creativity, rational thinking … And the way IT is taught in schools is pretty much guaranteed to put most children off a career in computing. So the Acorn school will be an interesting experiment in how/whether you can mess children up by depriving them of tech at an early age (one is comforted by the £11k fees as the parents will be able to afford psychotherapy if it all goes horribly wrong). I guess, watch this space!

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