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Ed-Tech Skeptic Cautions Obama on Spending

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Todd Oppenheimer has long questioned the unmitigated enthusiasm some educators and policymakers have for technology in the classroom. The author of The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology is now urging the Obama Administration to curb any plans to expand programs that boost technology use in the nation's schools, particularly the teaching of technology skills in the elementary grades. In this San Francisco Chronicle article he makes the case for developing other skills that are required for success in the global economy: "writing and reasoning; reliable work habits; the capacity for concentration and face-to-face communication; a sense of history, cultural anthropology, and--for jobs in the technology sector in particular--higher math and science."

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While he wouldn't deny the use of the Internet in schools, he would curtail it, and he would resist the temptation to invest new money in the latest hardware and software.

"Educators have been trying to improve schools with every technology we've ever invented, beginning with Thomas Edison's promise, in 1912, to create '100 percent efficiency' in the classroom through the medium of "the motion picture." Since personal computers and the Internet first arrived in classrooms, in the early 1990s, schools have spent approximately $100 billion on technology," Oppenheimer writes in the Feb. 4 article. "Throughout this campaign, educators and the technology industry have been searching madly for solid evidence of whether the computers were boosting achievement. So little has been found that this data has become education's WMD."

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Basic skills taught with technology in the early grades brings a comfortable feeling for students that the CAN "conquer" technology throughout their lives. This enables them to prosper more than if they do not understand technology.

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