School in heart of tech country teaches without PCs 
Author Message
 School in heart of tech country teaches without PCs

< http://www.*-*-*.com/

 School in heart of tech country teaches without PCs


HILLSBORO B efore he drives to work and sits at his computer to design
buildings, Luke Gregg leaves his two children at Swallowtail School, where
teachers have tucked away the school's only computer in a staff workroom.

Gregg's morning ritual points out a cultural anomaly. In Washington County,
which has 51 percent of the state's high-tech jobs, several parents employed
by hardware and software firms are sending their children to a private
elementary school where students will never turn on a computer.

The Swallowtail parents' belief -- that computer skills are best taught at
home or postponed until high school -- runs counter to that of many of their
colleagues and neighbors, public school parents who worry aloud that their
elementary-aged children don't have adequate access to the fastest, best

"I've got friends in Washington state whose kids need to bring a computer
disk with them to school in first grade as part of their school supplies,"
says James Spears, an Intel engineer whose 11-year-old daughter, Laura, has
attended the school near downtown Hillsboro for three years. "I didn't touch
a computer until I was in high school. It didn't hurt me any."

Conventional wisdom holds that children can only benefit from exposure to
technology, and research shows that when the machines supplement an already
strong curriculum, they can be an effective educational tool.

To that end, billions of federal dollars are available to wire U.S. schools
and expand Internet access for low-income children. Intel, the chip-maker
that employs Spears and other Swallowtail parents, spends millions on its
"Teach to the Future" program, which trains teachers to use computers in
their classrooms. And an Oregon commission of education experts recently
reported that the model elementary school should be equipped with one
computer for every six students.

But Swallowtail students won't study how computers work, learn to use a
keyboard or perform research on the Internet until they graduate from eighth
grade and move on to high school. Still, about one-third of Swallowtail's 53
students come from families that earn their money designing computers or
working closely with technology.

One of more than 800 Waldorf schools worldwide, the Hillsboro school
operates on the premise that children in the earliest grades learn best
through imagination and imitation. Waldorf schools began in Germany in 1919,
placing as much importance on instruction in handicrafts and music as in
reading and math. None of the schools uses computers in its classrooms.

Swallowtail students study art, language, music and dance, as well as
classroom basics.

Beth O'Mahony's fifth-grade daughter, Erin, is knitting multicolored socks
using yarn she dyed herself.

In contrast, the Hillsboro School District's technology curriculum expects
fifth-graders to know how to scan their own artwork and suggests the use of
"portable keyboards such as Alphasmarts to type out a complete story on an
imaginative Northwest Indian legend."

Emphasizing computers doesn't seem to enhance students' creativity and could
even stifle it, says Lauren Sheehan, Swallowtail's director.

"We want them to eventually see what a computer can do for them," Sheehan
says, "but only after they know what they can do for themselves."

Several of Swallowtail's high-tech parents say they didn't pick the school
solely for its no-tech stance but support the philosophy behind it. The
parents say they know computer skills are easy to learn because they work
with technology all day.

"It's not rocket science to use a computer," says O'Mahony, a former Intel
electrical engineer whose husband, Barry, is a senior engineer for the

The couple's children learn about computers at home from their parents, but,
says O'Mahony, "We certainly can't teach them to paint."

Some research seems to support the school's approach.

A 1998 study by the private Educational Testing Service of nearly 14,000
fourth- and eighth-graders found the more time students spent practicing
math using computers in school, the worse they scored on math tests.

To critics who say he might be restricting his kids' career choices by
limiting their computer use, designer Gregg says he prefers that Violet and
Jacob learn to draw by hand. If they pick up a computer-aided drafting
program in high school or beyond, fine.

"You can do a lot of beautiful and amazing things on a computer, but in a
way, you didn't really do it," Gregg says. "There's a big difference in
turning out an artistic masterpiece by hand and coloring one in on the

Copyright 2002 Oregon Live. All Rights Reserved.

To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

LogoForum messages are archived at:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://www.*-*-*.com/

Sun, 01 Aug 2004 12:32:33 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. School in heart of tech country teaches without PCs

2. Menino unveils plans for high-tech school in Hub

3. LOGO-L> Teach the teachers Tech

4. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

5. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

6. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

7. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

8. Forth Taught in Schools/Universities

9. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

10. Forth Taught at Schools/Universities

11. Writing about Forth (was: Forth Taught at Schools/Universities)


Powered by phpBB® Forum Software