Computers In The Classrooms . . .

Or Not? Essay, Research Paper

Computers in the Classrooms . . . or Not?

Should computers be the sole teachers of students in the classroom? The argument is whether or not students should be taught by live teachers or computers. Although there are many advantages from learning on a computer; there are many disadvantages. I believe that having a teacher in the classroom poses many opportunities for the students to learn life’s basics. I do not believe a computer can teach these basics as effectively as a live teacher. I think schools are trying to repair the problem but developing another one in the process, by using computers to teach.

In the article, “On Classrooms, With or Without Computers,” the author, Clifford Stoll discusses the differences between having live teachers and the teachings of computers. He believes that having physical teachers in the classrooms is advantageous because they can teach personal interaction, reading, and teamwork. They cannot teach these things accurately with a computer. Stoll counteracts his article with reference to parents and principals who want to use computers instead of keeping teachers in the classroom. Some concentration of his article deals with the large amounts of money spent on computer hardware and software. In the article, Stoll addresses sixteen specific schools: “The state of North Carolina spent seven million dollars to tie sixteen high schools with a fiber optic network” (Stoll 259). Although it is a good idea to spend money on technology for the classroom, it would better be spent on increasing teachers’ salaries (Stoll 259).

Another problem mentioned are homework assignments sent by e-mail to the professors. The student is not able to ask questions before handing in their assignment. Dr. Dave Cudaback is a professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley who answers his own students’ questions but has difficulty finding the time to help, “students around the world” (Stoll 261) with their questions. Stoll continues to raise many questions about the changes of this controversy. He leaves his reader developing unanswered questions (Stoll 259).

There are some benefits of learning from a computer. For example, through the internet, a computer can offer hands on interaction if the class were learning about whales. It would be easier for you to learn about the natural habitat needed for the breeding and the rituals necessary for this to occur. This would give the student a better understanding because we cannot go out into the ocean and experience this for ourselves, “Sensation has no substitute” (Stoll 263). The impact may not be as great from a computer, but your imagination could help you learn. The computer can provide in depth looks into anything you are studying. For instance, grade school teachers use the computer to teach children how to navigate for information. This gives students a benefit in learning how to practice mathematics, writing, reading, and spelling. Some software that is used in the classroom promotes interactive learning. The computer is a good tool for teachers to use in the classroom much like a chalkboard; however, using this median as the sole purpose for teaching can develop some disadvantages.

When a computer has replaced a teacher, many things are lost. A teacher shows students how to be giving, use deductive reasoning, and learn to interact with one another. After all, we are human, not a machine. Having a teacher in the classroom is essential in a young person’s life. A teacher can offer on-the-spot corrections. A machine takes the satisfaction of personal contact away. When I was a child in grade school, I could not imagine being without a teacher in class. It would have been disastrous because there would not have been anyone there to correct my penmanship, spelling, or math. This could have caused me to fail in my schooling and prevented me from continuing my education; because of the teacher’s caring for me to learn, he or she gave me what I needed to be successful. During school, having a teacher enabled me to look for many answers to many questions. The problem with computers is that there is only one specific answer for one specific question. This is not reality in life. There can be many answers to one specific question. This is where the teacher comes in to explain how to use different answers for the same question. You learn how to use your head to answer the question.

Stoll refers to a child’s television show, “the social effects of ?Sesame Street,’ ” and whether they have documented it properly (Stoll 264). Children who watched this television show did not become rocket scientists, did they? As Stoll considers, “Learning isn’t easy,” his thought brings up the question, why do we encourage our children to sit still to learn (Stoll 264)? We, as parents, tend to use media as a babysitter so we do not have to bother with the kids. We allow our children to sit in front of a screen, watch television, and become couch potatoes. This is not how our parents brought up to teach our kids. I believe this world would be a better place if the television or the computer were never invented. Simply because it promotes laziness. Children do not have to work hard to learn. In this society we have been taught that learning from certain shows in the media is easier, rather than looking for and finding the answer the hard way.

Although computers in the classroom can provide some things to students that teachers cannot in the way of an infinite reference and resource tool, they should not substitute computers for real, live teachers. Computers cannot provide the personal interaction that children need in a learning environment. Computers cannot nurture a child’s natural curiosity to go beyond what is required the way some teachers can. Exclusive learning through computers will lead to children themselves becoming no more than machines and the ability to think and act as a human will slowly diminish. Just as though television was once thought to be a great way for people of all ages to learn about different things, as parents relied upon it to babysit their children, the computer will eventually be discovered to be nothing more than a “boob tube” where people rely on the information obtained from it and become nothing more than idiots. The only thing that would be worse, would be having computers rule the classrooms. Then, not only will we be breeding desensitized, information overloaded people at home, but in the classroom as well.

Works Cited

Kennedy, Mary Lynch, Kennedy, William J., Smith, Hadley M. Writing In The Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. On Classrooms, With or Without Computers. Clifford Stoll, 2000. (p.259-266)


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