John C. Dvorak, Educational Luddite

The Luddites were folks who tried to destroy new technology threatening their old ways of doing things.“When tech enters the classroom, the usual result is money squandered. This was obviously the case with PLATO and it is quite apparent today with daffy educators suckered into going all-in with PCs and tablets.” John C Dvorak is an educational Luddite. He decries the use of IT in the classroom. He associates IT with distracting from the activities of teaching and learning.

That is so far wrong I am amazed. Education is about training brains to absorb information and to modify information and to present information. What IT does is to make that information faster and easier to find, modify, create and distribute. IT is a great lever to increase the efficiency of education. Nothing moves information around and manipulates it faster than IT. What books, paper and pens did for education hundreds of years ago, IT, particularly with small cheap computers, is accelerated many times over.

For example, consider a school’s library. I have been in modern and effective schools which had thousands of dead-tree books on shelves mostly sitting there being dead. Using the library meant students had to travel individually or in groups to the library possibly wasting 10 minutes. A card-index slowed students down more minutes. A few quick reads might find a suitable book in 30 minutes or so. A quantum of time in the educational system being 45 minutes meant a whole quantum was wasted before any useful work was done except learning how to do things inefficiently. Now compare that with schools having a server with ~100K books/articles/images or good access to the same on the WWW. Teach the student how to search once and they have a lifetime of information available as fast as they can read. By the time the dead-tree-worshiping school has a book in the hands of a student, the new student may already have made progress to acquiring important information. Google has gone around the world digitising books. Should schools ignore that body of knowledge they could not possibly acquire any other way? There are about 20 students for each teacher. How many of those few teachers are experts in any field in which a student needs/wants to learn? Books, digital or not, are the best teachers and just getting the students to the books makes them winners.

Still not convinced? Consider teaching students to write cogently. How many books on a particular topic should a student read to form some sound thoughts on the matter? One, ten, twenty,…? How many books can a single school at some location afford to own? A school is a far better place for learning by having 10 or 20 times as many ebooks as dead-tree books. Remember the class sets, the ones bought for more than $1K that get used for a few days or weeks and then go back into storage? Think how inefficient that is to hold back every student to the pace of the slowest reader and to have expensive resources sitting unused. With one PC per child, everyone can be reading/learning at their rate all day. That’s optimal for every student who can read. Johnny can’t read? The PCs give the teacher more time to teach him. It’s parallel processing. It works. Schools should use it.

What is wasteful in educational IT is use of Wintel everywhere. The big old desktops were just too large for classrooms designed in the days of dead trees. The small cheap computers running FLOSS on ARM and wirelessly networked are custom-made for education.

One last example. Education is a building process. Each individual adds to his knolwedge one brick at a time. That’s a rate-limited process and can be improved. Suppose the work of all students was preserved/published/distributed so that each student not only benefits from the knowledge and experience of his teachers but also from other students in the building and students and teachers previously in the building or in the educational system. With networking, databases and search-engines, every school can be an inspiring space, not a box. Students who are motivated and challenged by their peers are vastly superior learners and that motivation can be magnified by IT. In communities where I worked, I put wikis on the servers so students could find stuff related to their families/communities rather than just “the world” out there. How many dead tree books are relevant to students, written by someone in a faraway place with a different dialect and vocabulary and published on some stranger’s dead trees? Try teaching reading and writing in English to aboriginal students who live in their local dialect. Try teaching them to read and to write about the people and places they know. See the difference? No one wants to learn stuff that is irrelevant. IT brings relevance to every school and student and a connection to the rest of the world in a way that dead tree books don’t. Economics, space, freight all make that impossible.

Education with IT bridges the digital divide giving every student everywhere an equal opportunity to learn. IT, in itself, does not replace teachers and is not about education, but IT is a far better tool than what most schools have used for centuries. Folks who decry IT in schools are Luddites, trying to hold back a tide of knowledge, knowledge of people, places and things but also new ways of solving problems and indeed examples of real problems that inspire students to learn. Most of my education was accomplished in the early years with dead trees and it worked but you know what I remember best? Examples my teachers brought in of new and interesting stuff, nothing from all those dead trees. Where teachers can manage to bring in dozens of memorable things, IT can bring in millions. Present them all. Let the students sort them out.

See Classrooms Need to Ditch PCs, Tablets.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
This entry was posted in Linux in Education, Teaching, technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to John C. Dvorak, Educational Luddite

  1. oiaohm says:

    I am not full of crap on this.
    DrLoser your brother is a most likely natural dyslexia. Your brother was not deaf for about the first 6 years of life either before having hearing restored like me. So I had 6 years of pure sensory derivation on one sensor and due to eye issues for that time frame I always had one eye with a eye patch over it but it was changed every so many weeks. I was almost fully sensory cut off but in an unstable way like you would do to a person when you were torturing them. So you would not call my childhood normal so my brain development was not normal.

    These days they will either restore you hearing before child hearing before 4 years old or wait until child are 8 years old or older due to the know state of the brain in the middle that time frame being in a state of flux and changing the input at that stage can cause bad things to happen.

    When mine was done the side effects for restoring in that window were not known. The shocking part is rare cases restoring in that window was a instant cure. This is where the focus on balance training and the like in dyslexia treatment today comes from.

    Note I said most likely natural dyslexia. You are not talking heavy level torture to start dyslexia in a young child. Could be as simple a a malfunctioning toy training the brain that messing things up is rewarded. And when that was encoded into the brain early all the latter learning acts as a wall against against the correction. 4 to 8 years old is critical that is when you don’t need to apply massive levels of torture to mess with the brain. This is a worry with kids today being placed in-front of tv and game consoles with items that reward random behaviour.

    Dyslexia Natural is most likely generic based it follows blood lines. So you should have relations with dyslexia not just your brother if it natural. Environmental Dyslexia is very hard to prove but there is a clue symptoms match those of torture victims caused dyslexia. If the dyslexia pure Environmental or Torture caused it is reversible. Lot of work but it is reversible using the methods used to fix Torture victims what is inverse the method used to create it. So to cure environmental or torture dyslexia you must know the method that created it.

    There is one unique symptom that only natural dyslexia has only people with natural dyslexia see text turned into spirals but this is only a percentage of people with natural dyslexia. So if he ever had that problem is Natural there is no known cure to Natural dyslexia only suppression of symptoms.

    Understanding how torture makes dyslexia allows you to get a better understanding of the condition. Because it allows you to start to see how the brain is doing it most of it.

    Funny enough from the torture data on dyslexia an over forgiving parent or other children in house at the wrong ages could be a cause of environmental dyslexia by rewarding incorrect behaviour.

    This is the problem DrLoser since you have not read the data on torture caused dyslexia you don’t understand the processes for making dyslexia. Those processes can happen by natural errors or by human controlled environmental errors. Torture is one of the few times people are placed in perfectly controlled environment that they have no control over. When understanding how different brain malfunctions are created the best data comes for people who were tortured. Unsavoury I know. I would not go out and torture people to get more data. But I would not waste the data of those how have been.

    DrLoser you are like most how would torture relate to a loving home. In fact it relates more closely than most people would dream. A person in home can do minor things that perfectly match banned torture methods due to the brain disruptions it causes.

    Disruption of the brain logic was though a long time ago as a good way of getting information out with torture is banned because it also results in the person give up a lot of miss information. Basically its not banned because it harms the target its banned because it will not give results. So the old documents is all the data we are going to have for a very long time.

  2. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser for your dyslexic brother. Research into man made dyslexia. Dyslexia can be created by torture. Sensory deprivation done in patterns combined with the correct form of questioning.

    If only I’d known that when growing up in a nice middle-class family with 2.2 children (we had to dispose of the 0.2, because who wants that) and a cat?

    I’d always assumed that my brother, who I love deeply, was just like that. Dyslexic. A man who can write a two hundred word poem on a restaurant menu.

    I had no idea that he’d been tortured by the KGB. I will take a while and consider your wise and helpful observations, oiaohm.

    OK. Half a second later.

    You’re absolutely full of shit, aren’t you?

  3. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser for your dyslexic brother. Research into man made dyslexia. Dyslexia can be created by torture. Sensory deprivation done in patterns combined with the correct form of questioning.

    This is what is funny about me. My symptoms are a mix between natural and man made dyslexia. The repetitive question bit to make man made dyslexia demanding incorrect answers when applied demanding only correct answers in fact reduces normal natural dyslexia. Lot of the torture methods reversed that make man made dyslexia helps natural.

    Its very simple to get hands on information on natural dyslexia than man made dyslexia because the man made dyslexia relates to war crimes. Aphasia is also documented in torture cases. Light torture cases where sleep has not be deprived and food has not be restricted and physical torture has not been performed. Mental confusion methods of torture that are mostly illegal now due to the fact it messes up the person brain you are trying to get information out of.

    Like one of the german ones telling people the date always bogus so week did not so monday then wednesday than friday then thusday … Even day of month intentionally informed wrong. This kind of torture is designed to break your means to logically protect your secrets.

    Both dyslexia and aphasia can be created by environment without brain damage or generics. Basically put you through the right program and I could give you most of my symptoms DrLoser. Creating the illness is a lot simpler than fixing it. There are a few unique differences between natural and man made.

  4. DrLoser says:

    Incidentally, and despite what I just said, I suspect that both of us want the same thing here. To take a small part of it: let’s teach kids to understand elementary algebra.
    We both know this is quite difficult. You might have been a brighter kid than I, Robert, but it took me until I was ten years old to figure out that
    a + b = c

    The step beyond that is, of course, simultaneous linear equations.

    The step beyond that is quadratics and associated trigs.

    The step beyond that is power series given epsilon as a limit.

    There are many steps beyond that, including set theory and matrixes (I was never taught the former, and I was only taught the latter by accident at the age of eighteen).

    Every single step of this progression requires a teacher.

    Feel free to deny that point. Feel free to guess, without any evidence available, that this progression can be completed, even partially, without a teacher. A fully qualified teacher — they are rare — who can lead a fifteen-year-old from one point to another, and explain the symbolic interpretation in between.

    I don’t blame you for not being one of those rare people, Robert.

    But I am perplexed that you somehow think that this complicated exercise in rudimentary type theory can be replaced by a wizened worthless old language like Pascal and a tiny little problem space like tic-tac-toe.

  5. DrLoser says:

    Me, hate teachers? My family is full of them. Most of them have done twenty years of service or more.

    I’d suggest, Robert, that you were, shall we say, disappointed that the teachers you worked with didn’t buy into your ways.

    Which is not entirely surprising. Considering that those teachers had been practising their underpaid profession for maybe twenty years on average, and you were a Johnny-Come-Lately with a personal beef and a dropped laptop.

    Real teachers, even retired real teachers, would have responded to that Donald Michie machine learning matchbox thing and at least admitted that it was relevant.

    Not you, Robert. You came into teaching late in life. Evidently, you had no time for the qualifications of the other teachers around you. In your case, it was “my way, or the highway,” wasn’t it?

    Forgive me for being rude. Indeed, offensive. But you had no talents or qualifications as a teacher at all, did you? And again, I’ve grown up in a huge extended family of teachers, from pre-school to undergraduate teaching.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, none of the teachers I have ever known would sign on to your, shall we say, distinctive and individualistic, approach.

    Why? Because it’s not real teaching.

    That’s why. Computers be damned in this instance.

  6. pogson says:

    DrLoser must really hate teachers…

    I write from experience having been both a teacher and a parent. Computers are powerful tools for education. They can be abused just as paper and pencils can (paper airplanes outside of physics… tent pegs in the playground by the gross…) but by and large I have seen most teachers use them properly giving students access to an abundance of resources suitable for the curriculum (e.g. vocabulary building station in a multigrade/multilevel class with 24 students, my second use of IT in the classroom and one of my best increasing the measured vocabulary of my nearly illiterate students) or providing reading material in a school nearly devoid of books because of a fire.

    There are several other points in DrLoser’s diatribe but I’ll just mention that we teach students not only reading writing and arithmetic but important skills like planning and cooperation. Collaborative learning is essential and IT is one of many ways this can be accompliished. The key factor in any learning is motivation and exposing students to technology used in the workplace or society properly leveraged to best effect is quite valuable. One can collaborate in a classroom or by placing posters in the hall but IT like a Wiki on the LAN is much more useful and valuable because it grows instead of going to the wastebin every few weeks. Many students are quite visual learners and they can learn a lot by taking, sharing, processing, classifying and archiving images. That used to be done on paper in the old days but it’s cheaper, faster and easier to process, archive and retrieve with computers. That’s why I have this blog instead of handing out fliers on the street.

  7. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser wrote, “computers in schools are used as a lazy approximation of a teacher”.
    That is over-generalizing.

    Not really, Robert. It’s just a personal perspective. One which, as a retired teacher, I would have expected you to have some sympathy with.

    I have yet to see a single grade-school level computer learning course that genuinely teaches kids how to think symbolically, rather than (say) solving tic-tac-toe in the usual broken FLOSS way. More of this later.

    Computers can be used for good or evil in schools.

    And here we see “over-generalising.” More specifically, an entirely meaningless statement. Computers can also be used to prove or disprove the existence of an omnipotent deity in schools.

    Not really the best use of a computer, either way.

    e.g. collaborative learning,

    One small point. Is “collaborative” learning any better in any definable way than simple “learning?” I think not. This is why actual teachers are important. Otherwise the entire “learning” experience is basically stochastic, and, worse than that, distorted via feedback.

    The familiar concept of the “school bully” seems to be appropriate here.

    learning without limits on resources (almost)

    Or, to put it another way, “teaching” without regard to the plainly obvious fact that there are, and always will be, “limits on resources.”

    sharing expert teaching on-line

    … and also thoroughly incompetent teaching …

    versus reluctant teachers assigned by bosses to fill a slot

    Meaningless unless you give us an example of “a slot.”

    accumulating local and remote knowledge in easily searched form

    A huge bag of assumptions, there, Robert. But let’s just simplify this as “Google plus Wikipedia.”

    You know what? That doesn’t necessarily lead a kid to the correct answer. Let alone imbue the kid with the ability to discriminate between the correct answer and a bunch of rather dubious ones.

    That’s what teachers, professionals, are there for. It’s beginning to look as though you spent most of your time despising your professional peers for doing their jobs.

    …ability to work on real-world and bigger problems, etc.

    And back to tic-tac-toe. Tic-tac-toe is not a real-world problem. It isn’t even a “bigger” problem: I think the problem space is roughly in the order of 10^3 or 10^4.

    When leading your students to a tic-tac-toe solution, Robert, all you were doing was to train them up in an obsolete language. They would have learned more had you pointed out the symmetries involved. And, frankly, they would have laughed at you if you’d been so doctrinaire as to point out that “this is the FLOSS way of doing it.”

    Because, let’s face it, it wasn’t.

    Anyhow, my thoughts on being an educator and training young minds to appreciate the many ways of solving a problem. You know what? I wouldn’t even use a computer. I’d use three hundred match-boxes, with nine beads in each one.

    As an educator (and not an evangelist), I would be on solid ground here. And as an educator (and not an evangelist) I would be inculcating my students in a very modern skill — a skill which might get them a highly paid job at Google or other Big Data companies.

    Why? Machine learning, that’s why.

    Donald Michie solved the tic-tac-toe problem in 1965 using precisely the equipment I just described. It’s the earliest form of Machine Learning I know of.

    And what did you do? You encouraged your students to waste their time on an obsolete language using brute force to solve a problem that has no possible application in the real world, even by inference.

    Good job there, Robert.

  8. DrLoser wrote, “computers in schools are used as a lazy approximation of a teacher”.

    That is over-generalizing. Computers can be used for good or evil in schools. e.g. collaborative learning, learning without limits on resources (almost), sharing expert teaching on-line versus reluctant teachers assigned by bosses to fill a slot, accumulating local and remote knowledge in easily searched form, ability to work on real-world and bigger problems, etc. versus spreading Bill G’s concepts and monopoly, playtime rewards, elecronic babysitting…

    See, the teacher and the school administration can choose to do IT in schools the right way for the right reasons or not. I’ve seen students forced to do “programmed instruction” followed by playtime… The students soon learned that 1000 monkeys typing would get the assigned task done in 10 minutes versus 30 minutes by conscientious effort… That’s the wrong way to do it. That was dictated by bosses hundreds of miles away and passed down the chain of command. The bosses had digital “proof” that students were learning faster as a result of spending ~$100 per student per annum on software licences. Teachers following orders literally harmed students and were rewarded by good reports as the admins saw increased productivity. Then there’s what I did and had the students reassemble PCs and swap parts and clean the damned things as well as install operating systems and software. My students had a lot more respect for IT and could do magic with it.

  9. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser you think I don’t care about what I am writing. You really don’t want to see what I produce if I don’t care. You are dealing with a dyslexia person who has suppressed symptoms. When I first started I could not even write or spell two letter words.

    Dysphasia requires brain damage that I don’t have. Sorry DrLoser that is what is odd about me. You can run all the brain scans you like and there is absolutely no damage. Mine is pure screwed up interconnections.

    If you are monitoring my brain activity sections of my brain that should be used for processing hearing alone are in fact used for processing language for spoken and written. This is normal for a person who has had there hearing restored at a particular point in brain development. But abnormal to everyone else. Its interesting about 12 early or later in development then have hearing restored the mess does not happen.

    Aphasia is like Dysphasia without requirement for brain damage and its very different.

    DrLoser I am the very top end of the spectrum. The no such thing as type at 75 words per min and still be 25 words behind resulting in a shuffle in normal dyslexia. This is not possible in most people with dyslexia because they don’t have the Aphasia damage from having hearing restored resulting in increased processing ability on language allowing a more ext-ream form of dyslexia.

    To create what I have requirement you have to have been deaf for a time frame and have your hearing restored while your brain is at a particular point in brain development. My condition is not 100 percent natural section is man made. This is why it has similarities to brain damage. My father when he saw a written page every word on the page was written in a spiral to him. And that is the way I saw text before my hearing was restored. The result of the hearing restored in me is that now text looks to be in lines. But I now have a unique relation to the spiral effect that scrambled appears normal. I have done a very good job suppressing this but its not perfect.

    I am a true Dyslexia suffer. But my symptoms are different due to Aphasia effects on it. Aphasia effects are common in people with cochlear ear implants who had it done at a particular point in brain development. Its when you put the worst case dyslexia and aphasia together you get a nasty mess.

    Why I don’t stop and type short out of frustration I have given up on being frustrated. Running a grammar checking and fixing all the errors all the time increases my frustration level reduces my focus increases my errors. You can tell the posts where I am angry or frustrated they are worse than my average.

  10. DrLoser says:

    This is an often enountered misconception, that IT must do everything in a classroom or nothing. Think of the computer replacing the books and papers and pencils, not the teacher. Just as teachers teach students how to use books and papers and pencils, teachers have to teach students how to do basic things with computers. Students with practice will become expert at doing all the higher level stuff much better than any computer program.

    I think this is a very productive line of enquiry, Robert. (I also think that Kurks is absolutely correct in his judgement and has anticipated you.)

    The thing is, a computer (however defined, not relevant, although frankly I’d include calculators versus what you and I used, ie log books) does not simply “[replace] the books and papers and pencils, not the teacher.”

    I’d argue that books (OK, might be online) and paper and pencils and lemmas and proofs and so on are practically identical, pre- and post- the IT age. True, you could use (say) LaTex to format your lemmas and proofs better. But unless you understand the basic concepts of lemmas and proofs and indeed symbolic logic, computers in the classroom are just going to get in the way of the average … even the near genius level … student.

    I wish to propose, following Kurks’ main point, that there are two main reasons for this, and these reasons are composite:

    1) As presently constituted, educational computer systems do not teach the student symbolic logic. They merely teach short-cuts and cook-book formulas.
    2) As presently constituted (I say this with zero experience outside of watching my step-daughter, ten years ago), computers in schools are used as a lazy approximation of a teacher.

    I do not recommend lazy approximations of a teacher.

    I am in favour of actual teachers.

  11. DrLoser says:

    (Needless to say, my brother has run-of-the-mill dyslexia, not dysphasia. Proof positive that it’s possible to run 25 words ahead of yourself.

    (And still, fundamentally, make sense. Unless you suffer from dysphasia.)

  12. DrLoser says:

    Like I say, oiaohm, I have a dyslexic brother. I’ve researched the entire spectrum. You are not dyslexic, because dyslexics actually care about what they’re writing … sometimes to the point of getting so frustrated that they can only manage a sentence or so.
    You’re not dyslexic, oiaohm: you’re just incompetent. And not just incompetent: you refuse to use simple tools (such as, say, LibreOffice) to check your prosaicisms before you post.

    1. kurkosdr level of dyslexia. Common level is only contained to a single word. Mine is in fact sentence length. To be more exactly about 25 words. What I am typing is about 25 words behind what I am thinking. Yes even that I type at 75 words per min. So I can have exactly the same problem even typing as a dyslexia person speaking with words completely out of order. Like end or middle of sentence first.

    Dyslexia doesn’t work that way, oiaohm. Buggering up simple grammar is simple evidence of muddled thinking and possibly — I don’t wish to be rude — fundamental brain damage.

    There is no such thing as a dyslexic individual who gabbles at 75 wpm whilst still being 25 words behind their own thoughts. That’s not how dyslexia works — it’s a cognitive impediment, not a symptom of confusion over the output. What you appear to be talking about is “dysphasia,” and I’d suggest you get used to that, because amongst other things, that’s a big problem you have right there.

    It’s possible to handle dysphasia by accepting the issues and calming down and not just lashing out into walls of offensive gibberish.

    It’s going to be very difficult for you to cope with your dysphasia by pretending that, somehow, you have a “unique” form of dyslexia. Because, you know, you don’t. And even claiming to have that offends people like my brother, who has ordinary run-of-the-mill dysphasia and doesn’t go around lashing out at people for no good reason.

    Learn to live with the truth, oiaohm. It will do you good in the long term.

  13. kurkosdr wrote, “Where is the software that will allow a kid to solve a math execrise on a computer, and then make automatic corrections?”

    This is an often enountered misconception, that IT must do everything in a classroom or nothing. Think of the computer replacing the books and papers and pencils, not the teacher. Just as teachers teach students how to use books and papers and pencils, teachers have to teach students how to do basic things with computers. Students with practice will become expert at doing all the higher level stuff much better than any computer programme. Students still have to learn how to analyze problems and to synthesize solutions. Computers don’t think for students but merely help find, create, modify and present information. Computers are the best/fastest/cheapest way to get many of those things done. Computers are not a distraction. Teachers light the fires but the fires burn in the students. Students learn best by doing, not passively listening to teachers. Students can do more with computers because the computers can do most low-level stuff in an instant. Students still need to learn to do that low-level stuff but it’s just silly to require them to always do that with paper and pencil when the computer can do it in a second.

    An example: I assigned a class of ordinary students the task of creating a computer programme to play “tic-tac-toe” after a few days of PASCAL. I used FLOSS techniques with one student typing code and others watching/collaborating with a video-projector. It took just one class to analyze the problem and the students found two solutions: create a list of all possible situations with a solution for each (actually just a fraction of the solutions because many solutions happen multiple times in different orientations), or to “look ahead” to see what could happen if a particular move was made. The class broke into two groups, one making the lists and the others working on an iterative technique. In only a few days, a basic data-structure and a simple text interface were worked out. In a couple of classes more it was discovered that the “iterative” group had a working solution before the “list” group were half done. As a teacher, all I did was introduce PASCAL and assign a problem. The students did most of the work and the computers were the basic tools. The computers were not judgmental. The computers were fast. The students could easily evaluate their own work by the output of the computers. In two weeks students went from knowing nothing about programming to being able to solve a problem intractable to their typical maths/science techniques. It only took a couple hundred lines of code. Many schools are doing such things now with robotics. I was just using a stock PC with Free Pascal installed. That was a five-week course. For the rest of the time I had students work on two additional problems, one of their own choice. In that brief time students mastered all the techniques of high-school computer programming except “object-oriented” programming and a second language. My principal actually complained that couldn’t be done but I showed him in the curriculum where parallel processing of the modules was explicitly allowed. Students loved the course and the credits. Instead of getting just one credit in five weeks, students got 3 to 5 depending on their mastery. I found that the reason most teachers did only 1 module in five weeks was because they were wasting a lot of time teaching “VB” rather than the course material… Chuckle.

  14. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr level of dyslexia. Common level is only contained to a single word. Mine is in fact sentence length. To be more exactly about 25 words. What I am typing is about 25 words behind what I am thinking. Yes even that I type at 75 words per min. So I can have exactly the same problem even typing as a dyslexia person speaking with words completely out of order. Like end or middle of sentence first.

    So it possible when I am having a bad day for the 25 words on que to be random-ally mixed with each other in the same way a normal dyseidetic dyslexia mixes letters.

    kurkosdr as a non native speaker you don’t understand the issue with their vs there and the like. It call phonetic word substitution. Common error only in native speakers of the language. People who have it as a second or third language not as common. Lot of Native to language hears the word in head like sound then are hoping brain translation works correctly. My case it don’t.

    kurkosdr I am not just one form of dyslexia. Dysphonetic dyslexia and dyseidetic dyslexia and Aphasia. Basically my language processing section of brain is nicely messed up.

    kurkosdr you have absolutely zero understanding of how much effort I have to put in so I don’t scramble. It gets worse. I can read page of scrambled order of words in sentence and per word scrambled letters as if they are not for up to 48 hours after I have typed the mess. In fact I cannot see the error for 48 hours. For work I will write a document one day do the grammar in it the next. This does not work in on-line forums.

    kurkosdr the reality I don’t not have enough time for me to product good english with my fault.

  15. Bob Parker wrote, “Blame the stupid kids and their even more stupid teachers.”

    There may be examples that these problems relate to stupidity but the problem relates to basic processes in the brain. Some learners are visual, aural or tactile learners. The aural ones “think” in sounds and words that sound the same really do confuse them. It has nothing to do with intelligence or stupidity. Some brilliant people, like me, for instance, have great difficulty with this. “Sounds” flow from my fingertips as I type, not words. So, I have to reread everything I type to detect the problem. I can type better than 40 wpm all day long but if I talk at the same time my speed drops to less than 20. I am the same person, just as smart, but side-tracked by sounds. My wife can have the TV, a phone-conversation and a kitchen exhaust-fan going full bore and she carries on while I have to run from the room or put in ear-plugs just to think.

  16. ssorbom wrote, “Two weeks into the program, they needed to take them away again because a few kids figured out how to root their devices and circumvent the content blocking.”

    That’s a failure of networking, not the IT in the classroom. Many schools use whitelists on the router. Problem solved. The real issues are teaching students how to use computers to do the basic tasks: finding, creating, modifying and presenting information. That accelerates the educational process but does not replace it. I’ve seen schools with tiny libraries scarcely used. With computers every school can have ~100K ebooks and millions of useful documents available in seconds without traipsing around the building or cutting and pasting budgets. Schools that don’t use computers more or less as they are used in the real world are short-changing students. Schools should teach all that basic stuff and get the benefit of that efficiency in the educational process. There are all kinds of side-effects that are beneficial: accumulating local knowledge, allowing students and teachers to be inspired by the efforts of their peers, bringing current events into the classroom, enabling students to solve real world problems, efficient collection and analysis of data… There are few tasks involved in education that are better done without computers. Shooting baskets comes to mind…

  17. Alex wrote, “Another human being can sometimes convince a child that studying apparently boring stuff is worth the effort and can be fun. There is no miracle oil to replace a good teacher, but I’ve seen people repeat over and over that technology could somehow improve the teaching in the classroom”

    At first glance that is a reasonable position but it ignores the fact that different students do learn differently. What inspires one student may actually inhibit another. Professional educators understand this. That’s why curriculums include 7 methods of problem-solving to cover every student. These days, a good teacher can teach all the students in the class not just the ones that get off on the same things that excite the teacher. Computer technology used properly to find, modify, examine and distribute information is a great tool for teachers and students. It helps many students to function who are not abstract thinkers because they can do by brute force what others do by synthesizing elegant understandings. Computers don’t replace teachers but they can replace books/paper/pens/pencils. They are a newer and better way of doing many things. For example, the elegant methods usually only apply to a small subset of real problems but the computer’s brute force methods apply to all real world problems. High school maths can’t solve tic-tac-toe but most students can read or write software that can.

    Maths is the best example. Many years of education are wasted teaching paper and pencil methods to students who may never solve a real problem that way for all the rest of their lives. Many high school students in the old days dropped out rather than endure one more year of maths. With computers even junior high school students can solve real world problems of great complexity without much knowledge of algebra or geometry, just basic arithmetic, because the computer is millions of times faster at arithmetic. Generate all possible solutions. Pick the one you like best. It doesn’t mean we no longer have to teach maths but that for some students and some problems computers are a much better way of finding the answers we need. When I was a student, solving mortgages was left for Grade 12. Now Grade 10 students do it routinely either with geometric and arithmetic sums or iteratively with a spreadsheet. The difference is now all students can succeed in solving the actual problems, not just the abstract thinkers. To most students computers are not abstractions.

  18. kurkosdr wrote, “I never understood what’s so hard about “you ‘re vs your” and “there vs their”.”

    I do understand that. I can spell quite well but my first instinct is that words that sound the same are equivalent. I have to read what I’ve written to correct such mistakes. I have a short-term memory problem. If I speek, short-term memory gets wiped… It’s because brains are self-wiring and each brain gets wired a bit differently. I compensated for poor short-term memory with blazing computational speed. My brain learned to solve problems as fast as other students could parse the statement of the problem. It made me look like a genius in high school maths. Of course, as a teacher, I was really annoying… I could write down the answer at the chalkboard for the simple problems in physics students read from the text. When I showed students how I did it, they could understand it even if they couldn’t do it. Some of that speed came from using slide-rules in the olden days… There were no decimal points on those suckers so you had to be able to estimate the answers to within 10% just to survive.

    I can spell very well and I have a large vocabulary but when prose flows out my fingertips, every 30th word is a substitute. I reread everything and catch the mistakes the spell-checkers don’t. I think in the sounds of the words not their spelling. I hear the words in my head as I type, not their spelling. My typing unit types the word that sounds like that, not the one I’m thinking. That’s just the way my brain works. Live with it. I do.

  19. kurkosdr says:

    sting = string (damn virtual keyboards)

  20. kurkosdr says:

    “I am the example why the idea of spelling and grammar checkers don’t work.”

    You are the example of some people not being able to achieve basic fluency even for their native language. And don’t give me the dyslexia excuse, dyslexia makes you mess up spelling, your problem is you can’t string a sentence together, which is because of pure lazyness to either learn grammar or apply grammar (the grammar of your native language).

    Oh, and where exactly did you found a grammar-checker? Aka a piece of software that can detect the “you’re vs your” mistake? Does it plugin to a browser or word processor? Gawker writers could use one.

    PS: I never understood what’s so hard about “you ‘re vs your” and “there vs their”. I have never made those mistakes, ever, because I don’t think there is anything to confuse. I understand people getting spelling wrong and using the wrong tense, but mistakes like “you’re vs your” should never happen.

  21. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr if grammar and spell checkers educated I would not have English problems.

    I am the example why the idea of spelling and grammar checkers don’t work.

  22. Alex says:

    Teaching is at its best when it succeeds to inspire kids to learn something they never would by themselves. Another human being can sometimes convince a child that studying apparently boring stuff is worth the effort and can be fun. There is no miracle oil to replace a good teacher, but I’ve seen people repeat over and over that technology could somehow improve the teaching in the classroom. Introducing more non-human factors into education just makes the problem worse, and current education is already in bad shape, resembling an automated assembly line more than anything else.

  23. ssorbom says:

    There is a balance to be achieved here.
    A good example of technology gone wrong can be found in the Los Angeles School District.
    LAUSD invested huge amounts of money equipping every student in a particular grade level with iPads. Two weeks into the program, they needed to take them away again because a few kids figured out how to root their devices and circumvent the content blocking.
    On the other hand, I was a beneficiary of early technological trends when my district purchased voice recognition software for me. Completing large essays on time suddenly went from impossible down to difficult. I am physically handicapped, so typing more than a couple paragraphs takes me a long time (my TOP speed is ~20 wpm).
    Bottom line: it depends how, where and why the technology is deployed.

  24. Bob Parker says:

    “When it comes to writing texts, auto spell-check is a half-done job. Kids[1] think auto spell-check can correct everything, that’s why you see “your” being confused with “you’re” and “their” consfused with “there”. Where is a grammar-checker? And where is the spell-checker that will show kids why their spelling is wrong, instead of just feeding them the correct answer?”
    That is a really stupid statement, those issues were common when I started primary school 70 years ago. Blame the stupid kids and their even more stupid teachers.

  25. kurkosdr says:

    Experience says no, computers in education don’t work. With the exception of teaching about computers, or for searching for information in a library computer.

    The cause is simple: Software.

    Where is the software that will allow a kid to solve a math execrise on a computer, and then make automatic corrections? The closest thing we have is opening up a note-taking application and drawing on it. Lame. You can do the same on a piece of paper. Same for physics, chemistry etc.

    When it comes to writing texts, auto spell-check is a half-done job. Kids[1] think auto spell-check can correct everything, that’s why you see “your” being confused with “you’re” and “their” consfused with “there”. Where is a grammar-checker? And where is the spell-checker that will show kids why their spelling is wrong, instead of just feeding them the correct answer? Again, software.

    What is the real benefit of computers in every desk anyway? Some cute animations for the physics class. Maybe providing video for the history and geography classes. That’s the only thing I can think of.. Talk about minimal returns on investment. And there isn’t even software for that, despite the fact it can be done easily.

    And then there is the HUGE WHITE ELEPHANT in the room: Starring at a screen for many hours will make your eyes hurt. It’s because screens fire light to your eyes, while paper reflects light. There is the “paperwhite” screen the Kindle is using, but it’s very expensive. More cost for minimal returns.

    So much about teaching with computers.

    As regards searching for information, does it really have to be done from the classroom? You are supposed to pay attention to the teacher anyway, and computers on every desk just distracts you. Computers in libraries already exist, you can search for information from there.

    One more thing: The truly funny thing is that technology is moving backwards. Microsoft and Palm did the right thing and made touch devices that required a stylus to do data input. Then Steve Jesus came and declared styluses uncool. Dragging your impresice finger on a touchscreen is the cool thing now. And Google and Microsoft followed suit as not to miss the cool train. Now every touchscreen device is like an apple device, a luxury toy and little more. Devices with digitizers are a niche nowadays. Snap.

    [1]: …and sometimes, gawker writers, apparently. Go here
    and search for “there version”.

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