Rant & Rave

Tuesday, February 16, 1999

Don’t boot books
for computers

By Tomoko Yagi


IMAGINE the day when there are only computers and students in the classroom: no teachers. Imagine the day when schools totally disappear. This could be happening to children very soon.

Today, a lot of work is being done through computers. Some adults seem to be addicted to computers and truly believe these are the perfect devices for every little task. Because of this, parents are pushing their children to learn how to use computers.

Some states are thinking of totally switching from textbooks to learning via computer. Is this really good for children?

One good thing about using computers is that through a wide range of programs, colorful graphics and quick feedback, they may target children's interests better than textbooks. However, children may just as quickly lose sight of what they should learn, and may not retain information once it leaves the screen.

I don't think that computers are better teachers than books. I think that once children stop reading books, they may never learn the art of reading for pleasure. It may never occur to these children to try to think or learn for themselves because the computer will think and solve problems for them. It makes for passive, rather than active learning.

Solving a problem by using only our brains may be time-consuming, but it's worth it. And reading is the best way for us to learn to develop our thoughts and ideas. Unlike computers, books never give us a complete answer to a question as soon as we click a button. By giving children only one answer, computers may create adults who can only see the world one way.

We are already seeing that children who enjoy playing video games and other digital or electronic devices often don't seem to enjoy going outside to play with other children.

The lack of exercise involved with such indoor sport is only one of the problems for parents to consider. I also think there are many things to learn from playing outside. How else are they supposed to learn how to communicate with others and work together in harmony?

I worry that children who spend too much time on computers will grow up to be weak grownups, incapable of communication.

Many schools tend to cut down on art, music and physical education classes in order to expand computer programs. But I believe art, music and PE are absolutely necessary. Learning these subjects helps children develop into well-balanced adults.

We need to cultivate talent at an early age. If children don't take a first step into arts or athletics, they may never know that they had the potential to become the next Picasso or Michael Jordan.

Learning through computers does have some benefits. However, if we count on machines too much, we may create our own miserable future. That means that everyone may think in the same way, like robots, and our world will be devoid of human pleasures like music and art and the things that challenge us.

Tomoko Yagi is a student at Kapiolani Community College.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
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