Northwest NEWS

May 24, 1999


'Imagination is more important than knowledge'

   This is in response to computers in the classroom. The mother was thrilled that her children were learning games on the computers about logic and mechanics that allowed them to piece together pulleys and levers. I prefer children learned about mechanics the old fashioned way: hands on.

   Touching and manipulating pulleys and levers will expand the mind more than watching the action on a screen. As for the other games, that is all they are, only they have been cleverly disguised as educational.

   There is no shortcut to learning. The best way to an excellent education is to read and interact with people.

   Turn off the computer and TV, pick up a book and go on a geographical adventure with your child; journey to any part of the world or universe. What better way to spend time with each other, cuddling and traveling on a cloud of imagination.

   Can the computer offer human touch, a quality that is in such short supply in our society? I think not.

   The mother was correct on one point: the computer did rob her of precious time with her husband. A computer takes time to operate; it also has a lot of diversions such as the Internet and costly games.

   When we spend time before a machine, no matter how wonderful it is, we take time away from friends and family. What a shame that we view the computer as a more important part of our life than our loved ones.

   Don't get me wrong. I am not against computers; my household has one, but they have a place in society, and the classroom is not necessarily it.

   Most computers in the classroom are outdated. With the technology moving faster than the cost of keeping the system up to date, few schools can afford a state of the art system. Maybe we should consider the cost to our environment of throwing out all those outdated computers and their games.

   Computers should be offered at high school level only, just like typing was. And it should be mandatory, not an option. But at grade school level, never. It is robbing the child and teacher of valuable teaching time. Whatever happened to the art of penmanship or the pride of spelling? They went out when computers came in. We replaced the pen with the keyboard, and good spelling habits with a spell checker. Shame on us.

   Because we have overextended ourselves in all areas of our lives, we have now become dependent on the almighty computer. Parents, the best thing you can do for your child is slow down and take yourself and your child out for a few extra activities and enjoy life, yourself, and your child. This, too, is part of the educational process.

   As for not supplying our children with computers, those "marvelous educational tools," and possibly losing out on the next Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, or Benjamin Franklin--who are we kidding?

   None of them had computers. What they had was lots of free time to think, explore, wonder, and see the world as a child should. I prefer my children get their knowledge from all sources: books, interacting with people of all ages, and the computers. Let's put the computer in perspective: it's a tool, just like the pen or the book.

   We should not be impressed with kids who can throw together an adult-type presentation off of the computer. The computer did the thinking, calculating, and the graphics. The child only pointed, clicked, and printed. We should be impressed with the child who works hard and brings in a graph that he made, that they thought of and worked hard on. Let's be honest, these are the next Edisons, Einsteins, and Franklins. Why? Because their brains are working.

   "Imagination is more important then knowledge."--Albert Einstein.

Reva Albright, Woodinville