If you want the most vivid picture of developing life, you need only
look at the child. Day by day and year by year new miracles unfold,
both physically and mentally. The child is engaged with extraordinary
intensity in the highest activity of which the human being is capable:
she is on her way to becoming more fully herself.
But increasingly in our society, and at an ever earlier age, she is also
on her way toward meeting the computer. This encounter between the
self-transforming human being and the compelling indifference of
programmed logic could not be more fateful. The child is still soft,
close to nature, in need of the warmest and most intimate nurture. She
requires stimulation, but stimulation that raises her spirit toward the
beautiful, the good, and the true.
And what happens in her encounter with information machines? Well, that's
a large and complicated story, horrifying in many respects, but also, if
we attend to it in the right way, pointing us toward the wonderful and
ever-redeeming qualities of childhood. The articles we draw your
attention to here will help you to understand the grave significance of
the meeting between child and machine.
Why Is the Moon Getting Farther
Away? Why do we work so hard and spend
so much money distancing the child from nature and surrounding her with a
virtual reality? It is well to remember the educational virtues of our
natural surround, which are many.
Failure to Connect. Follow a master
teacher as she travels around the country seeing how computers are
actually used in the classroom -- and be prepared for a hair-raising
Educational Provocations. Many
of these brief statements designed to provoke discussion will seem obvious
to you; many of them will seem outrageous; and many may be both at the
Three Notes: On Baby Walkers, Video
Games, and Sex. Misunderstandings about child development, coming from
very different directions, are all encouraged by our infatuation with
technology. They deserve to be dissected and cast aside.
The following three articles come from Stephen L. Talbott's 1995 book,
The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our
Midst (the articles will be presented in a separate window):
Net-Based Learning Communities. If I need to find out
whether a child will become a good world citizen, don't show me a file of
her email correspondence. Just let me observe her behavior on the
playground for a few minutes.
Impressing the Science Out of Children. There is a
difference between "special effects wonder" and the true wonder that leads
toward a devout scientific curiosity. The latter grows from an awareness
of one's immediate connection to the world -- from a sense that the inner
essence of what one is looking at is somehow connected to the inner
essence of oneself.
Children of the Machine. Through education based on
computer programming, the child loses -- never having fully developed it
in the first place -- that fluid, imaginative ability to let experience
reshape itself in meaningful ways before she carves out of it a set of
Other articles and
a Snake" - What is lost when we use video and
computer technology in the classroom? This paper also
discusses the relation between quantitative and qualitative
You will find many additional articles by clicking on the "Computers and
Education" link in the NetFuture topical index.
For some of the best work on children and computers available anywhere,
see the Alliance for Childhood at
Last revision: March 16, 2007