The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Monday, November 15, 2004

Jason, Coral, Stacey and Mohamed are doing extra study every break and lunchtime, and after school, for their Media GCSE. I'm fairly certain that the indignity of the freezing cold weathering endured by the remainder of the playground has more to do with their sudden dedication to the subject, but their pre-production projects are slowly beginning to look quite masterful, so I try not to complain.

Today, Mohamed, a recent migrant from another continent, decided he should use the opportunity to acquire himself a webmail address. Jason protested that sitting at the PC is a waste of time - which indeed it is, as my district bans any access to email for all staff and students alike, along with other dangerous sources of perversion, such as google, or any DfES (ie, government) documentation.

Asking Jason why he preferred lessons in the classroom to lessons like today's, when students worked on library computers to present their evaluative reports, and he explains his history of geek addiction. He informs us all that you may well sit down at a computer thinking 'just ten minutes surfing will be enough', but that frequently hours and hours will pass, and soon enough, you'll have achieved nothing and be even further behind on all your homework to boot.
He finished with a resounding moral: 'so there's no point to computers at all. Ever.'

It seems educational theorists are catching up to Jason's way of thinking:
Doubts about school computer use
Students who use computers a lot at school have worse maths and reading performance, research suggests. [...]
The belief that there is an educational benefit - and not just better work skills - has underpinned huge investment by governments, and many parents, in information and communication technology (ICT).
Fuchs and Woessmann found that the more computers there were in students' homes, the better their test performance.
But more computers went with more affluent, better-educated families. So they took this into account in the statistical analysis.
'Not related'
The result: the more computers in a student's home, the worse the student's maths performance.
Source: BBC News / Fuchs and Woessman's Research, CESIFO.