Friday, July 07, 2006

the drama of using a computer

We need to view the way computers are used in schools as part of an ongoing sociological drama, to look below the surface to the real issues underneath.

Although far broader than a single issue, this point was well expressed by Seymour Papert WRT the issue of computers being chained up securely in computer labs:
The shift from a radically subversive instrument in the classroom to a blunted conservative instrument in the computer lab came neither from lack of knowledge nor from a lack of software. I explain it by an innate intelligence of School, which acted like any living organism in defending itself against a foreign body. It put into motion an immune reaction whose end result would be to digest and assimilate the intruder. Progressive teachers knew very well how to use the computer for their own ends as an instrument of change. Schools knew very well how to nip this subversion in the bud. No one in the story acted out of ignorance about computers, although they might have been naive in failing to understand the sociological drama in which they were actors.

There are many such example of the way in which computer use is crippled in Schools. For instance, it might be claimed that censorware or filtering software is being used to protect children from pornography and to keep them safe from online predators. On the surface that appears to have some validity but when you examine it closely as I have done here and here you find that it is not true. Schools don't care about keeping children safe from on line predators. One thing they do fear is being sued by parents but the real issue of censorware is about controlling how everyone thinks, children and adults. The show on the surface is just part of a deeper sociological drama between the forces of freedom and the forces of conservatism.

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