The Child and the Machine

Are computers an effective learning tool for the young? This book explores the use of computers with young children and our continued efforts to expose them to technology. Many parallels can be drawn between the US experience of technology and what is happening in Australia, although the book also draws on over a hundred studies that are not just confined to the US.

Overall, this book takes a dim view of the use of computers as educational tools for children. It's not just computers that are criticised but also their inappropriate use and implementation. Most schools, at the best of times, work to strict budgets, and when it comes to leading edge technology many often miss out. In the technology race, the cost of maintaining and upgrading the computers, as well as teacher training, will always leave schools a step behind.

The authors also pose the question of just how important computers should be in our children's education. When children are at a young age they also need to be exposed to real-life experiences. The authors challenge the full steam ahead approach employed in the use of computers in our classrooms, and ask us to consider the ramifications and the logistics of such a move.

The authors have drawn on educational research on how children best learn and the means to facilitate this. The media also get a lashing for predominantly providing only positive publicity in relation to our reliance on computers. The authors perhaps place too much emphasis on the problems and not enough on possible solutions. But when you consider the argument it becomes apparent that your child may benefit more from interacting with their surrounding environment than sitting in front of a monitor.

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Justin Sims

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