Apple, iPad and the Great Brainwashing

Ask your kids what they think about iPads. The answer might not be what you expect.

The good folks at Apple must be elated. Read these quotes:

I would buy iPads for every student in the school so we could have good educations.

Without iPads, most kids in my school will never go to college and have a chance at a happy life.

I would make sure every kid in the district gets an iPad. Everybody knows education is the most important thing.

I recently judged a nationwide seventh-grade essay contest in which students answered this question: "If you were given $5,000 to improve education in your community, how you would you spend it?"

The above quotes are from seventh-graders. Talking about the future of education. It doesn't come down to mathematics or literature, the arts or sciences. It doesn't come down to invested teachers, invested parents/guardians or invested students.

It comes down to iPad.

Here's another:

Our school needs iPads if we're going to get good educations.

Congratulations, Apple. You've done it. You've tapped into the market of tomorrow and convinced them that iPads = learning. They don't, of course. They might be incorporated into education sooner rather than later. But nonetheless, and it's tautological to say this, only education = education.

Let's not get too swept up by the flavor of the half-decade. There was a time when school districts distributed Palm Pilots to students. The Office of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education at the University of Illinois headlined a piece in 2001, "Palm Pilot in Math Education."

We get it. iPads are smoking hot right now, and iPads in classrooms – which defray the costs of updating textbooks as well as (supposedly) streamlining communication between district, school, student and parent – is an idea being discussed in districts across the country.

And yes, iPads are fun. Technology is fun. New gadgets are a blast. But they are not a cure-all to our education system. Even worse, in this case, technology is a distraction because the technology will change again in five years and suddenly that – something; whatever – will be the thing students and districts have just gotta have.

I read about 700 seventh-grade essays. At least a quarter said they'd buy iPads for their schools. The other three-quarters discussed other ways to spend the $5,000, including money for tutoring, teacher bonuses, facilities repair and defraying the cost of school supplies for their low-income peers. The winner wrote that he'd spend his money to assist a school on a Native American reservation that he drives by every day with his family. Those are all noble options. Even the iPad is a good option. It's the reasoning for the iPad that is most alarming: If I don't have an iPad, I can't get a good education.

That's a great thing to hear if you own Apple stock. Not so much if you're a parent or teacher.

Find Dave Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dave Schwartz April 27, 2012 at 05:52 AM
The Van Meter example sounds interesting. I'd like to know how they constructed their approach.
B.A. Morelli April 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I still don't get the big deal with iPads. Why would I want both an iPad and a laptop? They serve a similar function and you can do much more with a laptop, so why would I choose an iPad instead of laptop? Not that this addresses the point of your blog, but just saying.
Dave Schwartz April 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Our family has one and we like it. I read books and other publications with it, and sometimes watch Netflix. But not much else. We love it on car trips because the girls can design with a drawing app, or read, or play a game, or do learning activities, and we can make it 5 straight minutes without them telling us how bored they are.
Becky Brusky April 27, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I don't personally have one, and while my child would like us to get it, it probably won't happen because based on what I've seen since the iPhone, we are good on handheld attention getters! LOL The marketing expands to news shows such as 20/20, as well....there was a segment recently about how it is the best thing since sliced bread for children with Autism, showing one child and how it helped him. Being in special education, yes....they are amazing tools for several reasons, but no, they are not the answer to everything in education. It is one more form of immediate gratification in a country that continues to promote over-stimulation of our children in an effort to keep up with other countries. Oops....there goes my soap box! Thanks for the article, Dave!
Erv Server April 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
tablet computers are handy to carry around, the iPad is way over priced. I got in on the HP Touchpad "fire sale" and I'm very happy with it. True there aren't as many apps for it compared to iPad but the Touchpad does everything I need to do. There are much less expensive tablets out there that do everything the iPad does


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