11.0154 wiring the schools

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 20:18:32 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 154.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 11:09:34 -0500 (CDT)
From: BRUNI <jbrun@eagle.cc.ukans.edu>
Subject: Re: 11.0148 wiring the schools

In response to the "backlash" against "wiring the schools," I would like
to offer the following remarks.

The claim that "There is no good evidence that most uses of computers
significantly improve teaching and learning" seems like a rather empty
assertion. It could easily be argued that "There is no good evidence that
most uses of computers *do not* improve teaching and learning." My point
is that we need to seek out this "evidence," instead of firing off broad

I think it is unlikely that we will be able to keep Gates and his crew out
of the schools. What I think we should do is actively participate: both
in learning how to use computer technology and in overseeing how this
technology is being used in schools. The worst thing we could do is leave
the arena entirely. Because then, the technocrats will be running the
show, and the results, I can assure you, will not be to our liking
(unless we want our schools to turn into corporate-run "knowledge

The solution that we allow parents to choose the schools that their
children would attend (education as a cafeteria menu) does not seem to be
a good one. This notion of "choice" will further siphon funds away
from city schools. Maybe city kids would not mind being bussed to
suburban schools. But, consider what would happen if the decline
of the city is accelerated: the cultural loss is too great a price to
pay for "choice." For, where else can we actively experience the culture
that we are purporting to teach to our children? Surely, not in the
suburbs, where culture is almost wholly commodified in the chains of
"theme" restaurants, Borders bookstores (who espouse the belief that
reading is good, unions bad) and simulated "art-house" movie

John Bruni
English Department
University of Kansas