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Ipads in Education – Why it’s a Pandora’s Box

There is much discussion and research on Ipads in class and whether or not children learn better with an Ipad in education. I don’t really care about the learning results. I do care about my children living in the real world and not plugging in The Matrix every morning.

“You people are a special family”,  said our maternal care after our third was born. “You guys actually talk to me…” The reason for her remark was shocking to hear. According to the caretaker around 90% of the families she visits don’t even look her in the eyes when she comes in. “They mumble hello and go about doing their everyday social swiping in that little bright screen”. I don’t know what caused her remark to stay in my head for so long. I have seen it before on birthdays, joint outings and even family weekends. Walk into a restaurant and just take a look at how many people are actually still talking to one another. But… getting complemented on being “normal” sure grabbed my long term memory.

A while ago the subject came up again when my 16 year old tennis training partner explained how all his classmates were doing nothing but playing games on their newly introduced Ipads in class. Asking our 13 year old babysitter also on the real truth about how they work with Ipads in school gave the same amazing result. “Certainly all the boys are addicted to playing games on the Ipad”. Some even play during class with smart “quick-hidding-apps” to keep the teacher into believing they are doing schoolwork.

alien-ipad

My view of a child with an Ipad

With my oldest son going to school this year the vision of him sitting behind a screen all day turned my stomach. Also my hairs go up every time I hear someone saying children need Ipads and computers for them to “keep up” with technology. I have not yet seen any research to confirm that hypothesis but more importantly my common sense says this is utter bullshit. I am also convinced of my view because it isn’t a black and white debate. They will use computers and Ipads just as children not having a TV at home will see television somewhere. It’s just that I want my children (and me) to be in the real world as much as possible and I consider Ipads little facial vacuum machines that once attached will not let go.

Another reason is my own health which has suffered immensely due to the hours I spend behind my laptop for my job as a Marketing and E-commerce Manager. Not to mention my outstanding empathy towards online game addiction. I remember so vividly how we played hours and hours of Fifa and Battlefield on the Xbox during my ten years of studying. And with the new smartphones the problem has grown beyond gamefreaks on a little attic into a world wide addiction and will become a daunting global issue for which we cannot yet comprehend and oversee the consequences.

It will be a huge challenge for our society to withstand the appeal of those wonderful little High Definition square screens. This contains all your friends and conversations, photos, emails, gifts and orders, almost an answer to every question and endless addictive games. You can therefore ask whether we should use such a Pandora’s box as a learning tool for our children. In politics, I have little faith because most politicians were not your average student. They could probably concentrate fine in school and were not playing multiplayer online games in which the virtual world is for many more beautiful (at least more spectacular) than the real world.

A lot of research will follow into the Ipad in Education as a learning tool but those studies will support both sides in this debate with arguments. What I can guarantee is that the virtual world will become more vivid, beautiful and real every day and with Oculus Glasses(or lenses in the future) we could soon be a continuous part of that world. Whether or not my children have learned a proper handwriting is not important to me. What is important is their happiness and if they still feel, smell and live in the real world…

Apparently I’m not alone in my conviction as some Tech and IT Managers from Silicon Valley send their kids to “Analog Schools”. Also Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs mentioned in an interview limiting the amount of technology his kids use. Those of us with a clear vision of future dilemmas and working with new (virtual-) technology understand the challenge we’re facing and are prepared to fight for our beliefs. As Yogen Kushi comments so clearly on the NY Times article about the Waldorf Analog School:

I’ve now worked for seven years in the technology sector, and I love my computers and gadgets in work and play. However, I agree with others that have said that technology in early learning and development would be a distraction and even a detriment if it becomes a crutch. What’s important in early education is for children to develop their natural ability to learn in any context, through communication, interactivity and creativity. Here, Waldorf excels, and I would pay my last cent for my children to have that education too.

Yogen Kushi
IT security professional and consultant -

I think my wife and I will have to dig our heels in the ground and take a brave stand (against much of the world) on this one. We don’t want our child to use an Ipad in School! I sure am curious if this is possible to demand from the school we already picked out for our children. We had a girl in my class when I was 10 years old that wasn’t allowed to see television in school. Every day when we would see school television she would do alternative work without any problem. Maybe they’ll explain how the use of Ipads in class is limited and subjected to x ours a day and heavy supervision. But common sense again tells me in 3 years time the little innocent faces will only see daylight and the teachers contours for x ours a day. The rest of the day they’re sucked into digital devices for some exciting, innovative and intuitive learning maybe but surely gaming and much thoughtless dreaming. And again even if it turns out my children learn ten times faster, I don’t care… I don’t want my children to become addicted digital veggies not even saying hello when they come in after school for a cup of tea and analog cookies.

Clearly getting back on this subject probably monthly…  Please comment and let me know your thoughts. I am not behind a computer every day, and I have no Smartphone (hihi) so please be patient for an answer. I do read every comment however.

[Update 01-22-’15] Received a lot of comments that there should be no games on an Ipad for school and that with “the correct blocking software” there would be no reason to worry. Well, according to my tennis mate Milan any Ipad restriction software is useless and easily hacked or bypassed by his classmates as I already assumed. Besides like I stated I don’t care how educational it would be, I don’t want my child’s beautiful sparkling eyes hooked to a 3.1 million pixels bright Retina screen. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that can’t be good. My main argument stands… Why use a Pandora’s box that turns so many people into couch hanging, candy crush playing zombies as a learning tool for our children?

 

http://www.ad.nl/nieuws/ipadscholen-blijken-geen-succes~a99c0d12/ [NL]

http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nieuws/binnenland/column/rick-nieman/ipad-school-dom-idee [NL]

 

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3 comments, add yours.

Harry

Yes, agree, give them a love for art, music, outdoors, sports, discovery and exploring.

Willem

I believe this to be one of the many dilemma’s created by technological innovation. Sure we want our children to play with wooden cars en make their own engine noises when imagining that the car is a sports car. At the same time we are living in 2015 and the world is changing. I am sure my parents thought exactly the same when I got my first remote contolled car at the age of 10 and watched Telekids every Saturday and Sunday morning. However, I think I ended up becoming a real life person living in the real world and enjoying all aspects of life including all sorts of gadgets .
I definitely agree it is nog black and white. It is about adapting to changes and teaching our children about important values. This can either happen with or without using iPads on school I believe .

    Peter

    Author

    I don’t agree… In our youth the television wasn’t in our pocket, it didn’t send messages or asked to become friends in exchange for Farmville corn. The difference can be seen when you turn off the TV vs the Ipad and the reaction the child gives. The addiction power of the Tablet and Smartphone are much, much stronger then TV. And the TV can be turned of by parents but I hear many parents have trouble turning off the Ipad because the child also has all the school correspondence on it and it’s hard to determine what is school work and what is social.

    This is a dilemma that can’t be compared to other past dilemma’s. It a new and daunting challenge but one that causes enormous damage already. Go to any high school and look around, ask you physiotherapist what most of his clients suffer from, see how many partners communicate more on facebook then in real life, how many children do you see playing outside compared to when we were young… Why use such a dangerous “innovation” with children that can’t even tie their shoe laces…?

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