Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Who Needs All That Technology?

Not school's in Finland:

HELSINKI — At the start of morning assembly in the state-of-the-art Viikki School here, students’ smartphones disappear. In math class, the teacher shuts off the Smartboard and begins drafting perfect circles on a chalkboard. The students — some of the highest-achieving in the world — cut up graphing paper while solving equations using their clunky plastic calculators.

Finnish students and teachers didn’t need laptops and iPads to get to the top of international education rankings, said Krista Kiuru, minister of education and science at the Finnish Parliament. And officials say they aren’t interested in using them to stay there.

That’s in stark contrast to what reformers in the U.S. say. From President Barack Obama on down, they have called education technology critical to improving schools. By shifting around $2 billion in existing funds and soliciting $2 billion in contributions from private companies, the Obama administration is pressing to expand schools’ access to broadband and the devices that thrive on it. 
School districts nationwide have loaded up students with billions of dollars’ worth of tablets, laptops, iPods and more on the theory that, as Obama said last year, preparing American kids to compete with students around the globe will require interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology.

But with little education technology in the classroom, Finnish students have repeatedly outperformed American students on international tests. In 2001, Finland’s students were the highest-achieving in the world, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment test administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Nordic country uses innovative teaching strategies in the classroom, just generally without incorporating technology. Private schools and charter schools aren’t part of the mix, and all education is essentially free. Powerful teachers unions work hand in hand with the government, which went to great lengths to revamp teacher training. The profession is revered and respected, and government has no bearing on assessing a teacher’s performance in the classroom.

If technology was so necessary for an "excellent" education, many of the country's elite, including it's tech elite, wouldn't be sending their kids to low tech Waldorf schools.

The real goal behind this expanded technology spending in education is to pull money out of the public school classroom, away from individual schools and teachers' salaries, and hand it off to tech companies and the donor class.


  1. Beware of the gadget worshippers...

  2. The big tech sector needs to sell technology to schools to build their consumer base and enhance their revenue stream. The students do not need their technology and the quality of their education suffers greatly through the misuse of technology as a shortcut for developing many important skills such as spelling, writing, arithmetic, original research, and reflective analysis.

    1. We see first hand at my school how putting kids in front of computers for make-up credits is a disaster. But that doesn't stop the crooks from touting up the technology. These kids need small classes and one-on-one interaction with a teacher.

  3. High tech in the classroom is an indicator of low quality instruction. School districts that invest in high tech gadgets are seeking magic bullet solutions to complex challenges.