Friday, October 26, 2012

Computers donít help young students


I’m writing to encourage the public to vote no on Propositions 1, 2 and 3. There are all sorts of reasons, but my unique contribution to the argument comes from a personal experience I’ve had in our local school system.
Four years ago, during his last year as Blaine County school superintendent, I met with Jim Lewis to discuss my concerns about the ever-increasing use of computer technology in the grade-school classrooms. Since at that point we were entering a very concerning financial future, I thought he would welcome this information, as it would very positively affect the School District’s budget while simultaneously making Blaine County renowned for its visionary, groundbreaking, research-based protection of natural childhood, natural activities and natural relationships through related rejection of computer use for grade-school children.
I asked him if I could make a presentation to the board about the importance of this subject. He agreed and I asked him for the addresses of the board members so I could send them each a preparatory packet of information. He said that wasn’t necessary—he’d make copies and get them distributed himself. I never heard back. School ended.
I have always been a strong supporter of the public school system. I never thought of it as a political arena where the corporate computer industry would be stewarded into full access to an enormous profit potential, with concerns for risk to children’s brains brushed aside and repressed so blatantly by the very head of the school system.
Parents, board members, principals, teachers: Educate yourselves directly. Check out what Superintendent Lewis did not want his board to see. It was the publication called “Tech Tonic,” found at Educate yourselves and then act to protect the physical, social-emotional and intellectual health of your grade-school children.
In a family- and child-centered community like this, we have the opportunity to be groundbreakers in the emerging movement away from technology in the early grades, in order to protect and nurture our children’s brains for far better imagination, intelligence and relationships skills—for life.
The private Mountain School is currently the only school we have that refrains from student use of technology in the lower grades. It is working on transitioning into a publicly funded charter school, which would enable children to attend it for free, just like our public schools. This is great news. If you want to avoid computers for your grade-school (and younger) child, consider getting on the wait list for Blaine County’s new, to-be-renamed, low-tech charter school.
I would also email our current superintendent, Lonnie Barber, and current school board members, to let them know that you do not want imagination-killing computers in the classroom in the early grades. That will encourage them to make the switch in the current public school system also.
Albert Einstein famously said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
So, I urge everyone to vote no on the Luna laws. Pull out from our statewide nosedive into tech worship. It is harmful for young children’s brains.

Pamela Plowman is director of Owl House Children’s Sanctuary in Hailey.

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