Computers in Schools


It’s a fair argument that schools can no longer afford books because of the price of computers. It isn’t just the cost of the hardware but often each piece of software installed on each computer needs licensing. The cost is astronomical. Oh, and a couple of years down the line it’s all out of date.


I do appreciate that updating to the latest hardware is just spending for the sake of it. The ancient 1.8ghz Pentium with its 1gig of ram and equally ancient 8x agp graphics card will do everything a modern computer will do (games aside); in fact it would probably do more, school computers tend to use onboard graphic chips which are not a lot of use (the tips are full of these old computers, often from schools). Then there are operating systems such as ‘Linux’, which is free and a range of free software such as ‘Open Office’. My experience is that schools like the best and politicians promote this. I think the main problem with government and computers is that they promote something they know little about; most of them don’t know where the on/off switch is on their ‘laptop’. Being helpful, as I try to be, I will tell them. It’s on the train where you left it.


The main use children have for computers is gaming (not gambling) and porn sites, I’m not sure in which order. Seriously, when kids log on do we really think they are looking for ‘Arable Farming in Australia’ or ‘Knitting for Beginners’? If you want kids to gather information online then you require specific information sites and computers locked to these sites, the idea that you can filter the bad sites out of the internet is silly and not worth discussing. Actually, it’s interesting that a ‘virtual world’ site like ‘Second Life’ goes to the trouble of creating a ‘virtual world’ for teenagers to try and keep the kids away from the adults. Ninety nine percent of adults don’t want to go anywhere near kids but kids like to be in the adult world and with open access you can’t stop them sneaking in.


One of the reasons for computers in schools is to learn kids about computers. I must confess I have never met a child who has a clue how they work. As for the applications; the problem is you learn on one package then leave school and get a job with a different package with nothing in common with the one you have learned on. Actually we have gone over the hill with many software packages, instead of getting better they are getting bigger, more complicated and slower.


Probably my biggest beef with computers in schools are those schools which have wireless connections. The radiation levels in these classrooms make mobile phone microwave transmitters look tame. The problem with radiation as with many industrial hazards (unions estimates up to 24,000 deaths a year), you don’t see the consequences for decades. Apparently kids with mobiles are five times more likely to get brain tumours than adults.


For anyone who believes microwaves are harmless try camping on a radar dish. O.K radar is higher frequency and more intense but that’s how you test dangerous products.