On School

“You can’t deny that technology has made big changes in education,” I insisted.

“Every day,” Mr. Magundi said, “we see the children walking past us on their way to the elementary school on Breckenridge Avenue. And what are they doing? Carrying things. They’re carrying more things than ever before. They are pulling their backpacks around on wheels. Why? Because schools are utterly blind to the really useful aspects of technology.

“Brielle has every book Mark Twain ever wrote on her cell phone. Mr. Bates never carries a thing to work—it’s all in the cloud, so he can work on it at home or in the office. As for you, I still have no idea what you do, but it obviously doesn’t involve carrying things. In the real world, the single greatest thing technology has done for us is to relieve us of the responsibility of carrying piles of things when we want to get intellectual work done. We just go where we need to go, and the things we need are in computer-cloud land, waiting for us when we get there.

“So if our schools have embraced technology with such fervor, why are our children carrying anything at all? Why isn’t their homework already waiting for their teacher when she gets to the classroom? Why aren’t all their schoolbooks waiting on the iPad for them when they get home? Why are they breaking their backs carrying their own weight in textbooks and binders? I say that technology in school has put shiny new siding on a rickety old structure, and that it has made no really interesting changes in education at all. It has not done the one thing technology should be really good at doing, which is to free the body of useless and irrelevant burdens so that the mind may flourish.”