Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Why Johnny Can't...
One Computer Per Student
1997 September 10
It is incredible to me that there is not already a computer on every desk in every school. All children now in school will spend the rest of their lives interfacing with computers. Basic computer skills are going to become, after reading, the most important skills for virtually every kind of work. In another decade, most access to knowledge and information will be via computers. Those who cannot use a computer will be nearly unemployable. Even ditch diggers will use them to find out where the pipes and wires are buried before they start digging.

So if computers are going to be at the center of almost all productive activity, why then are we still making only perfunctory efforts to teach our children how to use these fascinating but frustrating creations? Part of the problem is that most teachers and administrators are not themselves comfortable with computers and are not anxious to have this weakness revealed before their students. This vanity will have to be set aside. Teachers will need to learn to tackle these difficult and frustrating beasts themselves, and they will have to be prepared to call on some of their students for help. There is nothing wrong with this.

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