The writ­ing is on the wall, or tablet

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Get­ting out of the press con­fer­ence of the ETSB at Granby’s Park­way Ele­men­tary, a stu­dent project caught our eyes. The young boy chron­i­cles his life around his par­ents and com­puter tech­nol­ogy, end­ing with: ‘My par­ents have Iphone’.

He was not born yet when the East­ern Town­ships School Board, un­der the guid­ance of Dr. Ron­ald Canuel, took the bold gam­ble of throw­ing money out of the win­dow by buy­ing com­put­ers for most of its chil­dren. When the present pub­lisher took over this news­pa­per, we made one of those small steps that some­times res­onate a lot more than orig­i­nally thought. On our front page, we pub­lished a pic­ture of two young kids look­ing at their por­ta­ble com­put­ers in front of Christ Church here in Stanstead. OUT­SIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS. That was nine years ago.

The gam­ble we will say has paid off. Not on the far flung claim that some­how the school board’s dropout rate is re­lated to the in­tro­duc­tion of com­put­ers, this one hav­ing been heard be­fore back in the early 70’s when au­dio-vis­ual would do the same thing. But there is no deny­ing the facts: the dropout rate of the ETSB stood at 42% ten years ago; it is less than half that to­day. Still, the young kids us­ing their com­put­ers nine years ago are now young adults who have learned the ba­sic skills of us­ing mod­ern tools.

There is a side ef­fect to this: the li­brary was dark last morn­ing at that school.

We do not be­lieve that tech­nol­ogy can solve all of the ills that face our school sys­tem. Good teach­ing is more than hav­ing all kids us­ing a com­puter. Yet, the ev­i­dence that they can help and even solve a lot of prob­lems is there. The ETSB pro­gram was started at around the same time that the MIT Ni­cholas Ne­gro­ponte started the one lap­top per child pro­gram; it is now ob­vi­ous that in third world coun­tries, this is mak­ing a huge dif­fer­ence. By the way, the so called $35 lap­top used in In­dia was devel­oped in Mon­treal by Datawind.

There were schools of­fer­ing com­put­ers be­fore our school board did. But in the mas­sive un­der­tak­ing that it started, rather than be­ing used by stu­dents, they were in­te­grated into the whole cur­ricu­lum. Not an ad­junct but an in­te­gral part of the stu­dent learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

To­day, the whole pro­gram, its ten years of ex­pe­ri­ence, its in­ter­na­tional ram­i­fi­ca­tions, re­mem­ber the Cirque du Soleil us­ing the ETSB as their in­ter­na­tional school board, may not sur­vive the cuts of the government. This would be one of the great­est mis­takes ever made in this province. We hope that in­tel­li­gence will pre­vail and that a proper bud­get will be al­lowed for the ETSB.

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