Tech Businesses: No Tech Toys for Our Children’s Education

How do the people at tech businesses want their children educated?


I don’t have a link for it now, but I remember reading that Steve Jobs did not allow his children to have iPads and other electronic toys. He didn’t think they were good for their intellectual development. That was interesting to me because a local public school had provided Chromebooks for all students, and I had read of high schools providing iPads.

But now I see a similar story. The New York Times reports, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute.”

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

Now we know that these companies are pushing technology at the schools, trying to get public schools to spend lots of money purchasing there gizmoes for the good of the students (or so they claim). We also know that schools will use technology for reasons that seem more to do with behavior control than education. So what are we to make of these same people making completely opposite decisions when it comes to the education of their own children?

Do they happen to hold to weird beliefs about education so that they put their children in very different schools from the public schools that run after gadgets? Or, do they think that some children (ours) need a different kind of schooling than theirs need? Is this a two-tiered system where some are trained to be thinking adults and others are trained to be manipulated through images?