You Turned Out OK?


Here's a statement that I'm getting really tired of hearing:
"We didn't have computers when I was in school and I turned out okay. There's no reason why kids today need 'em."

My response is always along these lines:

“You turned out OK? Wait a second…

“The world is badly overpopulated. Poverty and slums are rampant. People are dying in the streets. Wars rage around the planet. Natural resources have been depleted, there are few fish in the ocean, the forests are being destroyed. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. OK…?

“Don’t you think that maybe things could be better? That people could have the means to make for themselves a safe and sustainable world where people don’t starve and wars don’t rage? Don’t you think that maybe what you are calling ‘good enough’ simply doesn’t work for the 21st century?

“The fact is, we need to do so much better. Our students today need to know a lot more than just the basics. They need to be literate, they need mathematical and financial acumen, they need to understand logic and computation, they need to comprehend science and engineering. They need these things, not just to do their jobs, but to be responsible citizens, to vote responsibility, to participate in their communities.

“You didn’t have computers in schools when you were a kid and look how the world turned out. We don’t get to make those mistakes a second time. We need to get it right, now. That’s why we need computers in schools.”


  1. Maybe computers have got nothing to do with the sorry history of human stupidity and greed. With or without them, people calculate and engineer, but still the world goes from bluner to blunder.

  2. Computers allow us to do things better and quicker but we decide what to do. If we decide to do bad things computers only help us do them better and faster. Thus computers make it even more important that we make good decisions and to do that we need better education, not just in technology but also in philosophy and sociology.

  3. I was going to say the same exact thing as rww.

  4. (Networked) computers open up pathways to information and communication that can act as resources for knowledge building.

    Wider access to the knowledge commons, and a multiplicity/diversity of voices within it, can result in better identification of problems and solutions.

    Could be argued that the problems described above (poverty, disease, war, resource depletion, income disparity) arise from knowledge capture and restriction to limited/privileged spheres.

    An (admittedly circular) example: we could not be having this discussion (on the value of computers) without computers -- in which case Scott's or Stephen's perspectives might be the only ones allowed to stand/be disseminated.

  5. The argument that kids shouldn't learn with computers is ridiculous. Kids should learn with the tools of today so they can grow up to create the tools—and, with them, the world—of tomorrow.


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