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Alliance for Childhood
A Call to Action on Technology Education
The Alliance for Childhood has issued a new report raising important questions about the increasingly screen-centered life style of today's children and calling for a radically different kind of technology education, grounded in ethical principles and face-to-face relationships with people and with nature. Only then, argues the report, will young people be prepared to make wise decisions about technology's uses and misuses.
Tech Tonic: Towards a New Literacy of Technology challenges education standards and industry assertions that all teachers and children, from preschool up, should use computers in the classroom to develop technology literacy. That expensive agenda ignores evidence that high-tech classrooms may actually lower student achievement. At the same time, society's love affair with high-tech toys and entertainment is making children ill—promoting a sedentary life at a time when childhood obesity is at epidemic levels.
Tech Tonic calls for seven key reforms:
•• Make human relationships and a commitment to strong communities a top priority at home and at school.
•• Color childhood green to refocus education on children's relationships with the rest of the living world.
•• Foster creativity every day, with time for the arts and play.
•• Put community-based research and action at the heart of the science and technology curriculum.
•• Declare one day a week an electronic entertainment-free zone.
•• End marketing aimed at children.
•• Shift spending from unproven high-tech products in the classroom to children's unmet basic needs.
Read the complete text of Tech Tonic, and order print copies of the report, at the Alliance's web site:
Meanwhile, new research based on data from a massive study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that 15-year-old students who use computers extensively at school do worse on tests of mathematics and reading. The research suggests that very modest levels of computer use are helpful for this age group, but the benefits quickly disappear with increasing use. The same study found that the more computers available in students' homes the worse their performance in math. Read more about this research at the BBC web site:
U.S. news organizations have thus far almost completely ignored these important research findings. They have also failed to inform citizens about new technology education standards, promoted by the government and industry, that will require all public school children in the U.S. to spend increasing amounts of time in front of computer screens starting in the earliest grades.
We urge you to read Tech Tonic, to forward this Action Alert to others, and to write a letter to your local newspaper editor, school superintendent, or school board members, letting them know how you feel about these issues.
To support the Alliance in its efforts to educate the public and promote more rational and effective education policies on technology and children, you can send a tax-deductible donation to the address below. You can also donate directly by credit card at our web site. In this holiday season, please consider making a gift in the name of a friend or relative who cares deeply about children's health and well-being.
The Alliance for Childhood
P.O. Box 444
College Park, MD 20741
December 20, 2004
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