Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds--for Better and Worse

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9780684831367: Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds--for Better and Worse
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A cautionary approach to classroom computer use is advocated in this thoughtful examination of how modern educational goals are not always best served by technology and how children react both physically and mentally to the extensive use of computers. 25,000 first printing. Tour.

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Review:

This important book is a welcome addition to the growing (and long overdue) debate about how much of a good thing it is to mix computers and children.

Healy is a professional educator of wide experience, and a recovering techno-fundamentalist. She is scrupulously fair about the evidence presented in various studies on the ways computers help or hinder learning, and quick to offer positive anecdotes where there are positive ones to be had. (She freely notes, for example, what a miracle computers have been for some handicapped children.) But her conclusions about the routine use of computer technology in the classroom are overwhelmingly--and persuasively--negative.

A major theme of Failure to Connect is the federal government's culpable idiocy (not her term, but she implies as much) in jumping uncritically, to the tune of $4 billion a year, on the "computer in every classroom" bandwagon. As she shows, there is scant evidence that computers teach basic skills any better than traditional methods, or that children who don't have computers are somehow "left behind." Conversely, there is abundant evidence that an uncritical infatuation with computers as an educational panacea is replacing skill building and learning with formless play while forcing art and music lessons, and in some cases math textbooks, off many school budgets.

Healy writes lucidly, neatly balancing her discussion of the issues with practical, undogmatic advice for parents and educators. A sober and sobering read about a crucial issue. --Richard Farr

About the Author:

Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., has been an educational psychologist and professional educator for more than thirty-five years, with experience as a classroom teacher, college professor, reading and learning specialist, and elementary school administrator. The author of three previous books, including Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think -- and What We Can Do About It, she is a frequent guest on NPR's Parents' Journal and a lecturer and consultant to public and private schools and parent groups. She is a parent and grandparent, and lives with her husband in Vail, Colorado.

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9780684855394: FAILURE TO CONNECT: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds -- and What We Can Do About It

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