Friday, October 26, 2012

Apple says it’s not the size but how you use it that matters

Oh look, it’s Tim Cook. 

And look, he’s got the iPad Mini out to show the world how he’s going to revolutionize education.  Soon every school in the country will be able to use Mini’s to watch Khan videos, play Angry Birds, and go into the Settings tab to screw with notifications.  I can’t wait.

Every time a new Apple gadget comes out the Techno-wonks on the Interwebs fall all over themselves trying to convince people that the Education Revolution will be televised via Facetime, and all the problems that people in classrooms have will be so much better because when a child has a tablet, the child is calmed, nurtured, and is somehow experiencing a realization that is only found when you drop acid or cuddle with an Apple product.  You hear about the cost benefits of tablets (there are none), the ability for different learning styles to excel (questionable theory, and can be done without 1-1 tech), and the dynamic teaching experience that the tablet provides the user (because we all know reading is boring and unnecessary). 

The problem is that none of this replaces good teaching.  None of it.  Zero.  Apple is just as evil as Microsoft who is as evil as Monsanto who is as evil as Shell who is as evil as Wal-Mart….unless none of them are evil and we are all just too damn stupid to not think that they are after good profit margins above all else.  I watched what happens when Apple comes into a district with no money and starts to dictate policy.  It’s a strong lesson in cost/benefit analysis that has the teacher using valuable time not learning how to be a good teacher but learning how to jump through techno hoops.  And look, you might have brand new iPads, or iPad Minis, or near obsolete Mac Books that students can use but that don’t necessarily get them to learn anything.  Apple wants us to become dependent on the tablet.  They aren’t really that interested about learning.  They are interested in the market.

So you think I’m being overly harsh and pessimistic about Apple and that’s very cute.  Especially adorable is how you are probably thinking right now that I’m too enraptured by my own ego to accept the collaborative opportunities that technology can afford my students.  It’s like the Internet Age all of the sudden grew good teachers out of the Ethernet cables of the universe and granted them collaborative ability.  Before America Online there was only an old hag and her abacus, with an occasional ruler to rap the knuckles of sleeping students that would nod off during the incessant lecturing. 

Or maybe we are all forgetting that some “Sage on Stage” teacher really motivated us into learning and critical thinking, and that was done before people surfed porn and played World of Warcraft until 2 a.m.  Maybe some of us teachers forget that a sheet of paper is a calculator is a graphing calculator is Wolfram Alpha, and that the one thing makes the tool work is a good teacher.  Instead of meetings with Apple trying to buy tablets, why aren’t we meeting with successful teachers trying to propagate good classroom management techniques?  Instead of playing with videos, why aren’t demanding that our kids read more?  Instead of staring at a tablet, why aren’t we getting our kids moving?  Basically, why are continuing to put the tool ahead of the teacher? 

And why does Tim Cook really even matter to Education?           

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