Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Smells like pharma tactics

If you want to start a trend with the public, the school system has proven to be a good place to start. I can think of a few trends that I personally witnessed. The first trend was to push technology in the home, not just in the classroom. My husband and I barely had enough money to pay the mortgage, feed the family, and keep the car running, but we kept reading articles in the newspapers that children did much better at school if they had a home computer. Home computers cost $2000, not money we could get our hands on easily.  Huge guilt feelings on our part. Our children would lose any educational advantage they may have had! The parent/teacher interview would go something like this: Teacher: "well, I'm not worried about Alex's (our middle son) handwriting because he'll be working on computers in the future anyway. He won't need handwriting." The message was clear: Buy a computer or Alex would be chiseling out his writing assignments on stone tablets.

The second trend was the rush to medicate. I again began to feel that my children were being left out. So many children had diagnoses of ADD and ADHD, and dysgraphia (Alex missed out on that one) that the principle's office had a long line down the hallway at noon of children waiting to be medicated. But, as readers of this blog are already aware, my youngest son Taylor was caught in the ADD web. I was told by the school psychologist that Taylor may never reach his potential if I didn't put him on Ritalin. I refused to do this. Today, with hindsight, I question who was feeding this information to the school system. Suddenly, teachers were acting like pharma reps.

And, the trend continues. Scare parents into jumping on the digital bandwagon to help Johnny keep up in the classroom. Get the teachers to endorse the product. Get the media to advertise this for you.

iPad a solid education tool, study reports

-- More and more schools are jumping on the digital bandwagon and adopting iPads for daily use in the classroom. Apple's education-related announcements last week will no doubt bolster the trend, making faculty tools and student textbooks more engaging and accessible.

But today another data point emerged, demonstrating that the iPad can be a valuable asset in education. In a partnership with Apple, textbook publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt performed a pilot study using an iPad text for Algebra 1 courses, and found that 20% more students (78% compared to 59%) scored 'Proficient' or 'Advanced' in subject comprehension when using tablets rather than paper textbook counterparts.


  1. The question of "is a computer a better teacher or worse teacher than a human?", only time will tell .
    If we can record and show the best teachers like Mr. Wizard (TV Series 1951–1972) or Julius Sumner Miller , the children would get the best.

    A stupid computer will make what kind of student?

  2. I, too, have found this trend very disturbing! I work part time in a local school district teaching music lessons. One day, the band teachers came in after a staff meeting carrying knock-off iPads. Every child in the school now has one! They don't use textbooks, and don't write anything down in their (paper) note books... everything goes in the iPad. Even homework is turned in electronically that way.

    I talked to multiple friends... this is the beginning of the end of literacy! The next generation of children may not even know what a book feels like, the weight of it in your hands, the smell of it, the airiness of a single page turning...

    Other school trends that shock me:
    * random drug screenings for ANY child who wishes to a. drive to school b. participate in any "extra" activity like art class, band, sports, etc.
    * having to "buzz in" at the locked front door, go through elaborate registration procedures at reception, and then be admitted to the area of the school you're bound by a security guard who knows the numeric codes to multiple locked doors... feels like prison to me!

    Great blog.

  3. First off, does anybody know why my Reply button doesn't work?

  4. Mark - well if you listen to all the techies, they think the answers to all the world's problem are to supply gadgets to school children. This means, of course, greater social anxiety - the divide between the haves and the have nots grows even wider. The American school system is a great example of dividing the haves from the have nots. Too much choice breeds social apartheid. But, so far, the apartheid push has been driven by
    ambitious parents, oblivious to the fact that
    apartheid does not breed community spirit and social cohesiveness.

    Altmentalities comment shows the tip of the iceberg and it IS disturbing. Schools run like prisons, big brother drug testing as a prerequisite for indulging in socially acceptable pastimes. What does drug testing have to do with art class? But, unfortunately these policies come about because WE allow them. I'm sure teachers are at their wit's end, with all the social engineering projects they are mandated to carry out. They are supposed to be teachers, not drug reps, psychologists, or shills for corporate America.


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