Teachers Matter More Than PCs

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Just as I was wondering how pumping trillions into banks will solve the GFC (great financial crisis) – along comes Craig Barrett (former CEO of Intel) and tells us that Teachers Matter More Than PCs

“We’re bailing out Wall Street, we’ll be bailing out Detroit soon, we’re bailing out the agricultural sector with high subsidies at a time of record crop prices,” Mr. Barrett said. “Where is the public outrage that the U.S. education system is failing our kids?”

This is a particularly cogent point for someone like me who lives in Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Education has been installing massive quantities of PCs in classrooms from kindergarden to 12th grade high school.  The lip-service to PC and Microsoft Windows usage in the classroom has reached new levels of absurdity when I heard from my niece, who is a  first grade teacher, that they teach computer literacy and how to use Microsoft Paint.  It is no accident that achievements of Israeli High School students in international math tests have fallen from the top 10 to the bottom 50 in less than 20 years.

Schools should take a lesson from best practice risk management of large software engineering projects:  increasing the number of programmers in the middle of a failing project is a very bad idea.  Less is more in programming and less PCs are more in the classroom.

Give the classroom back to the teachers.   Invest all that money in better salaries.   Our kids live and breathe Internet and computers – its part of their life and just as there is no reason to teach children how to use a phone, there is no reason for a first grade class to learn how to use Paint.

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