Lowell Monke’s “The Human Touch”

In this article, Monke essentially makes the claim that we have too much faith in technology and rely on it too heavily without even thinking about it, especially when it comes to our implementation of it in K-12 classrooms. Furthermore, he argues that computer availability, contrary to popular belief, does not lead to test score and school performance improvement and that, in using computers in the classroom, specific kinds of learning are left out. Finally, Monke makes the case for concentrating computers and other “high tech” technologies in the higher grades of K-12 education and “honor the natural developmental stages of childhood.”

While this article was written almost a decade ago now, I’m still surprised that it was written as recently as 2004. With the kinds of claims Monke makes against the use of computers in schools, I probably would have guessed that this article was even older (maybe 1994 rather than 2004).

In general, I disagree with Monke’s sentiments about technology and computer use in the classroom. And personally, I was a bit offended by his comment that it was “students who had curtailed their time climbing the trees, rolling the dough, and conversing with friends and adults in order to become computer ‘wizards’ who typically had the most trouble finding creative things to do with the computer.” Here, it seems like he’s trying to make the point that it’s impossible to know how to use a computer and to have a social life at the same time–an argument that is idiotic.

I also had some issues with Monke’s argument against 2 dimensional, abstract learning. He explains that children don’t learn well through abstractions and that’s all computers have to offer. But what about children who learn through flashcards? These are pretty common educational tools, especially in a child’s early schooling years, that are effective in using abstractions (two dimensional drawings of real objects) to teach.

One good point that Monke did bring up that I have never thought about is that “Clinging to the belief that computers have no effect on us allows us to turn a blind eye to the sacrifices that schools have made to accommodate them.” He explains the amount of funding that goes into introducing a computer lab to a school, maintaining it, and protecting it. In the meantime, this often leads to budget cuts for other areas of the school. I think this is a legitimate and current concern, and I wish he would have spent more time discussing this point in the article instead of the many others that (for me, at least) fell flat.

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