l)ook. Example: Children are asked torn”draw ” a line segment onsereen and labelrnit “AB.’ Because tlie’ do this elcctronicalK,rnit is considered superior to a manualrnexercise. In what way? Quite apartrnfrom the extra time involved in lining uprnand marching down to the computer lab,rnlogging on, opening the program, etc.,rnthere is far less teacher supervision ofrnwhat is supposedlv being learned.rnSome, such as Clinton apparatchiks,rnwould argue that the computers ought tornbe in the classroom alreadv, not “downrnthe hall.” When that is the case, howe-rner, we w itness an cen further breakdownrnof classroom coherence, as kids line up tornpla’ at the terminal(s) while the teacherrnstruggles to keep a general lesson going.rnIn other classrooms, volunteers pullrnsmall groups of kids out of class tor specialrncomputer sessions in a continuousrnpattern of disruption reminiscent ofrnShort Attention Span Theater.rnThis suggests another problem withrnthe whole cult: the sheer amount ofrnteaching time being sucked into the sacredrnblack hole of Tcclmologv. Acrossrnthe countr, teachers are using instructionrntime not only to be trained on computersrnbut to plan acHvities, lessons, pedagogy,rnand “integrated curricula” aroundrnthem. Computer systems arc constantlvrnchanging, being updated and upgraded;rnbright ideas for transforming pcncil-andpaperrnlessons into “clcetronicallv enhanced”rnexercises are being lobbed fast,rnfurious, and nonstop at the teaching profession.rnMany teachers feel they arc on arntreadmill, losing ground no matter howrnthey speed themselves up. Welcome tornthe workforce of the New World Order!rnTo return to the contradictions inherentrnin grade-school computer use, interactivernbooks are not interactive. All thernterm nreans is drat children can click onscreenrnicons as the computer reads thernbook to them and watch programmedrnpixelations or hear sound effects. ThernKid Works program reads your own w ordsrnback to you like an idiot savant, but atrnleast the’ are your own words. With StolybookrnWeaver, the child is also supposedrnto hpe in his own stor, but all the illustrationsrnare provided from a menu ofrnbackgroimds and figiues. The KidPixrnprogram offers such a dazzling array ofrngraphic elements and ways of manipulatingrnthem that no creativih’ whatscjevcr isrnrequired; yet art, madi, social studies, andrnlanguage-arts classes all do “units” onrnKidFix. The various math programs, minusrnthe bells and whistles, proide nothingrnmore profound than a traditionalrnarithmehc lesson would. And computerrnmath is made to order for students alreadyrnprimed to get the answer b askingrna calculator rather than dieir own brains.rnI’he one grade-school use of computersrnthat conveys an actual skill better thanrntraditional means is the teaching of howrnto t)pe. hi the meantime, however, thernteaching of how to write —not to mentionrnliow to draw—is heading toward extinction.rnI’yping, which used to be arnhigh-school elective, will be of use tornthese students when they hae to t’pe papersrnfor high school and college, and forrnfuture jobs in the “cube farms” of TechnoCo,rnInc. But what is lost b bpassingrnthe ancient interaction of hand and eye isrnalmost never considered.rnOne who has considered it is Gar’rnChapman, director of a technolog}’ andrnsoeiet)’ research project at the Uniersit’rnof’I’exas and former executive director ofrnComputer Professionals for Social Responsibilit}’.rnIn a speech delicred inrnMay 1999 to a conference on federal educationrnpolicy at the Brookings Institution,rnChapman noted, “It’s ver}-, en rarernfor me to run into a [graduate] studentrnwho is totally incompetent with computers.rnBut it is, unfortunatcK, not rare forrnme to run into students who can’t write orrnspeak well, can’t spell and have huge andrnalarming gaps in knowledge. I don’trnthink computers will solve that problem.”rnIndeed, the computer cult only exacerbatesrnthese problems.rnThe cult’s hamifnl ideolog- spills overrninto evcrydax’ life wheneer parents,rnblinded b- techno-faith, allow or encouragernchildren to pla’ endless ideo andrncomputer games. Among the effects ofrnoerexposurc to this medium: hyperactivit}’,rndistractibilit}”, impulsieucss, witheringrnof social skills, poor nutrihon and exercisernhabits, and atrophy of motor skills.rnThe mantra parents cling to is thatrnsuch pla- is good training for the jobs ofrnthe future. Ihat’s true chietT if the jobrnvon have in mind is desk jocke for thernnew push-button militar’ or desensitizedrnexecutioner of fellow students. In an)rncase, particular job skills should berntaught on the job, not in the schools,rnwhose task is to eonev cultural litcrac}’.rnThe abilities to read w ith understanding,rnto think analytically, to compute and calculaternaecurateK’, to write cogently, andrnto speak expressively are what employersrnare begging for in job applicants; withrnthose abilities as a foundahon, all else canrnbe added as needed. Unfortunately, therngovernment and its schools aren’t generatingrnthis kind of “product” —the feds arcrnmuch more afraid of an educated populacernable to think critically than of lettingrnthe U.S. econonu’ slide down to ThirdrnWorld status.rnThe Dallas Morning News reportsrn(N4ay 25) tiiat, “At some schools, vocationalrnprograms are so elaborate that callingrnthem ‘shop class’ is like calling a Boeingrn747 a glider. 1 here are full-bore autornshops, greenhouses, airplane hangars,rnday cares, photo labs, and on and on.”rn”I teach tiicm things besides photography,”rnone shop teacher is quoted as saving.rn”I teach pmictualit}’. I teach honest’.rnI teach dcpendabilit).”rnThat’s nice, but such virtues should berntaught in the home, and job-related skillsrnshould be taught on the job. If they can’trnbe, why don’t we just drop the fiction ofrnhigher education for all, revert to tiie Europeanrnsystem of academic versus vocationalrntracks, and quit pretending thatrnmost kids are getting an tiling more thanrna grade-seliool-leel preparation for thernlabor force?rnNow for the second major problem:rnWorld Wide Web worship. Computersrnas “channels” of the fabled Internet arernbelieved to grant instant knowledge tornweb surfers.rnHave you ever tried to research somethingrnon the Internet? You choose arnsearch engine, enter your keyyvords, andrnwait as thousands of pages queue up forrnperusal. Sometimes, more than half ofrnthe items are duplicates under slightlyrndifferent listings. All times, many itemsrnhave nothing to do with the object ofrnyour search, although you usually onlyrndiscover tiiis after waiting for the irrele-rnant page to load. Many sites that lookrnpromising either cannot be found, havernmoved with no forwarding address, orrnsimply are not as advertised: Either theyrndeliver only a disappointing smidgen ofrnwhat was promised, or they are masqueradingrnas something they are not.rnMany a site turns out to be the exeruciatingh’rnboring homepage of some poorrncitoven mondial who, in the course of hisrnvirtual life, happens to mention one ofrnyour kcvwords. Many sites are eommcrcialrnand tiius only ver selectively informative.rnAnd perha|is most important, anrnenormous nmiiber of sites contain documentsrnwhose provenance and eredibilit)’rnyou have no means at all of judging.rnIn brief, you would have done better tornvisit the librar). A mere fraction of thernknowledge of mankind has been scannedrn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn