Computers may not be an aid to learning

  anchor 09:42 21 Mar 05

From todays Daily Telegraph:

The less pupils use computers at school and at home, the better they do in international tests of literacy and maths, the largest study of its kind says today. The researchers analysed the achievements and home backgrounds of 100,000 15-year-olds in 31 countries.

The study, published by the Royal Economic Society, said: "Despite numerous claims by politicians and software vendors to the contrary, the evidence so far suggests that computer use in schools does not seem to contribute substantially to students' learning of basic skills such as maths or reading". Indeed, the more pupils used computers, the worse they performed", said Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Wossmann of Munich University.

Pupils tended to do worse in schools generously equipped with computers, apparently because computerised instruction replaced more effective forms of teaching. Their report also noted that being able to use a computer at work had no greater impact on employability or wage levels than being able to use a telephone or a pencil.

  Sapins 12:03 21 Mar 05

Logical really, computers cannot adapt as well as a "teacher" to a pupils varying learning capacity. The human brain is still far superior to any computer that exists today. New technology tends to be over estimated as a learning tool.

  Diemmess 15:53 21 Mar 05

....depressed really..... No need to list the good things about computers, but unless and until a child can execute all "3 Rs" fluently, computer time should be recreational only.

Computer literatacy is merely a bonus skill, a distraction or temporary relief, rather than an aid to normally able children

  anchor 16:06 21 Mar 05

Unfortunately the present administration does not share your views. The article goes on to say:

The Government says computers are the key to "personalised learning" and computers should be "embedded" in the teaching of every subject. Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has said: "We must move the thinking about ICT, (information and communications technology), from being an add-on to being an integral part of the way we teach and learn".

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the UK is lagging way behind some other developed countries in the standards of basic education.

I personally doubt this latest report will change their opinions.

  Sapins 16:17 21 Mar 05

AHhhhhhh, the Government doesn't agree, that cheers me up no end, I and Diemmess must be right:-)

  Diemmess 16:33 21 Mar 05

That's why I'm depressed or angry, they never think of asking me before doing silly things!

Trendy educationalists seized power in the early 60's when the government of the day panicked and gave a crash teacher training course to just about anyone with the gift of speech and ability to count a row of beans.

This was done to soften a shortfall of teachers. Some of the new ones found their niche and became very good at their new-found vocation. Some were hopeless and left a trail of betrayed pupils before they left to do something else.

Just a few found their target and became ADVISORS, and that is where the trouble really started. These people began a trend to reorganise everything regardless of need, and formed part of the current practice of change for its own sake, rather than response to a well researched need.

  Joe R 16:55 21 Mar 05


Got it to a tee.

Most kids at school now, do not have the basic core skills required, for everyday needs.

I know of children, who have "O" or even "A" grades, who cannot work out any problems, without access to a PC and/or calculator.

Surely the basic core skills, ( reading, writing and arithmetic ) should be ingrained into pupils, before, computer skills take over.

  Andybear 18:15 21 Mar 05

There were no computers when I was at school and we weren't allowed to use calculators.

My niece and nephew, who are both in their teens, were horrified when I told them and asked me questions like 'How did you do your homework if you couldn't type it and didn't have the internet?' Answer 'We handwrote everything and used libraries to look up information'. Another question 'How did you work things out in maths without a calculator?' Answer 'We used our heads or worked it out on paper'.

One of the best things I ever had to do in junior school was learn my times tables, even though it was a pain at the time. I still find myself using them in everyday life, over 20 years after leaving school.

  wiz-king 19:06 21 Mar 05

Yes .. I remember it well, learning the method of proving trig formulas, 4 fig logs/anti-logs, learning tables up to tvelve time - non of these fancy decimals, lbs/sqin, english grammar. I think that I had a much better general education with a wider choice of subjects than children have now. No calculators until A levels, detention - same day, if you were late home you had to explain why to mum or dad. Walk, cycle or bus to school, no cars used to run the little darlings to school then. Shorts for all 1st years even in the snow and 'you will wear your cap at all times'!

The discipline of school was relaxed slowly as we went up each year until we were told by the masters that we could call them Mr Xxxx instead of Sir and we were even allowed to cut acros the Quad instead of going all the way round.

Oh those were the days ... early 1960's

  Forum Editor 19:10 21 Mar 05

Normally a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to opinions about education, I find myself with mixed feelings on this one.

The whole point about computers - or so I've always believed - is that they relieve us of the drudgery of many everyday tasks. Thus liberated, we are free to enjoy (note that word) our lives a little more. We can do things we didn't have time for before, like.....computing.

What's the point of labouring on about mental arithmetic if most of the people now in school will never have to do any, or very little? Computerised cash registers handle transactions, ATM's dish out the cash, what more do you want - where's the need for all this mental arithmetic?

It's certainly true that we are raising a nation of semi-illiterates, but that's got nothing to do with computers and everything to do with a changing society. The fact that most school-leavers can't write a decent letter, or tell you anything at all about the last book they read is because nobody has bothered to make it desirable enough that they do these things. Most of the business letters I receive are badly written, and most of the teachers I speak to don't seem to think it's that important that our children visit the school library regularly.

Don't blame poor old computers for all this - blame yourselves for allowing the system to get into this state. Blame yourselves for allowing your children to watch so much TV that they see no pleasure in reading books, or going to plays, or doing anything much that requires a self-start mentality.

It isn't the fault of computers, and it isn't the fault of the children - it's us, the parental generation who are to blame, and it's time we stopped looking for scapegoats all the time.

  Andybear 19:39 21 Mar 05

I don't have any children.

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