Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Why Johnny Can't...
Education and Efficiency
1997 September 08
Education is expensive. It is a long-term investment that often yields relatively little for periods of as long as 20 years. We need to use this scarce resource more efficiently. If the government sets itself to the task of developing economical educational hardware and software, the cost will be within reach. The student-teacher ratio can be reduced from 1:30 to 1:15 (if some of those administrators get back to teaching), but we probably can't afford to go much lower than that.

We're going to have lots of kids in the classroom learning different things. Skills that computers can teach will be taught at each student's own pace. Some subjects that are by their nature group efforts will be taught in plenary sessions; much of the rest of the work will be individual, with one student helping another. (What does it do to a kid's self-esteem when the teacher asks that kid to explain something to another kid who isn't getting it? This behavior is usually forbidden in school. It falls under the rubrics of cheating or talking in class.)

We need to develop new educational tools and apply them effectively. Computers will of necessity be at the core of this effort.

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