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Is Reader Rabbit a Tar Baby?

 
 
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 03:16 pm
I've been investigating private schools for Mo and have narrowed my choices down to a couple that I am going to visit and perhaps apply to.

One of the schools doesn't teach any kind of computer skills though it does teach gardening and knitting along with the basic Rs. That sounds fabulous to me, for me, but I still don't know if it is right for Mo so I was doing some research and reading, comparing different educational systems and philosophys when I came across this:

Quote:
In a tightly controlled study it became apparent that the use of "Reader Rabbit" software decreased creativity by 50% as evidenced by the fact that after using the program for seven months, 50% of the children in the study were no longer able to answer open ended questions and showed a markedly diminished ability to brainstorm with fluency and originality (Oppenheim, Atlantic Monthly).


I didn't know what Reader Rabbit is so I looked it up and learned that the program is often used in schools. I don't know if it is used in schools here (but I intend to find out).

Knitting is starting to sound like a much better lesson plan.

What do you think of programs like Reader Rabbit?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,081 • Replies: 13
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 03:24 pm
I don't know anything about it (not used in sozlet's school).

A couple of general principles. One, I'm against pretty much ANY one-size-fits-all curriculum. My standard rant that I've been making for a long time is that a good teacher is far more important for a student's success than a good curriculum per se. But since it's far harder to control for good teachers, much of the bureaucracy goes into making a good curriculum. That's a nice idea, but bad teacher + an good curriculum is still worse for the student at the end than a good teacher + an OK, middling, or even bad curriculum.

Two, I don't think these things have to be either/ or. I don't see anything wrong with teaching some computer skills, without it being this big program. I tend to be a bit wary of "blank is bad and we don't do that here, at all" kinds of schools. I mean, gardening, great (my kid's school does it), knitting, great (my kid's school does it), why not computer skills TOO? (My kid's school does it).
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fishin
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 03:29 pm
There was just a lengthy article the other day (CNN maybe??) that talked about a study between students that had been in a school environment that used educational software and those that hadn't.

The basic jist of the article was there there was no measurable differences between the two groups on any of the standardized tests.

I'll see if I can find the article.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 03:34 pm
I see a difference between teaching computer skills (how to use Google, how to type, how to format a document) and teaching other skills VIA the computer (educational software).
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fishin
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 03:34 pm
Doh! Here's the story! Seems to apply to Math and Reading though.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/04/05/education.technology.ap/index.html
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 04:05 pm
I don't think it has to be an either/or, either, soz. Which is one of the reasons I posted this topic. I'm trying to learn how to vet the schools I'm looking at.

I've been looking through state by state comparisons of public schools and your state really out-preforms my state. I'm not sure if comparing sozlet's school to Mo's is really relevant. A quick comparison shows that despite your state having more than three times the number of kids enrolled in public schools that they spend almost $1,500 more, per child, per year than our schools do. 66% in your state take the ACT; 12% in my state do. Our public schools are so bad even Doonsbury made fun of them.

I think that article really just makes sense, fishin' -- we managed to educate generations of people without computers. I think sometimes computers make us lazy. This school makes the point that, especially with very young students, that most things can be learned better in the "real world" than in the "virtual world" so let's learn it by doing it. That makes sense to me.

The Atlantic Monthly article is available online to anyone who has (or wants) a subscription but you can't just by the article. If anyone has a subscription I'd love to hear a bit more about what the article says!
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 04:14 pm
I know what you mean about the differences, boomer, the intent wasn't direct comparison. Just amplifying that I tend to be suspicious of that kind of absolutism.

And anyway, surely that private school (that teaches knitting and gardening but not computer skills) has as much or more resources than our public schools do?

If other things impress you about the school though, I don't think that's necessarily a deal-breaker. Just makes me go hmm.

When I was vetting schools, I looked at test scores/ school report cards, parent comments (a few sites offer this -- can try to find them back if you're interested), and general educational philosophy. Then I talked to some actual parents whose kids attended the schools, and visited the schools I was most interested in. Of all of those, visiting probably gave me the most info. (Sounds like your process is very similar.)
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Linkat
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 04:30 pm
Reader Rabbit - didn't even realize they had marketed this to schools as a learning tool. We have one geared toward Pre-Schoolers. Don't know why it would cause decrease to creative thinking? Unless it is because the schools are relying too heavily on the program to teach children.

Could be one of those coincidental things? Was the study done in several schools across the country? Or an isolated area - could be that there is something else causing this to happen.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 04:38 pm
I don't have any idea, Linkat. But I think I found the article posted elsewhere -- http://www.tnellen.com/ted/tc/computer.htm. I'm going to print it out and have a read! (Thank heavens for computers!) If it IS the same article maybe we'll get some answers.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 04:41 pm
I've seen those sites, soz, and I think that once upon a time we all talked about them. Mo's school ranks very high on those lists -- the test scores are good -- that was one of the things about the school that worried me what with the whole NCLB baloney. The school only had two comments - one said it was amazing and the other said that the principal is a fanatical Christian. I haven't seen evidence of either.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2007 06:12 pm
Though outdated, that was a pretty interesting article. I would love to see something more current though. I do tend to agree with the closing comment "teach carpentry, not hammer".
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fishin
 
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Reply Sat 7 Apr, 2007 03:57 am
sozobe wrote:
When I was vetting schools, I looked at test scores/ school report cards, parent comments (a few sites offer this -- can try to find them back if you're interested), and general educational philosophy. Then I talked to some actual parents whose kids attended the schools, and visited the schools I was most interested in. Of all of those, visiting probably gave me the most info. (Sounds like your process is very similar.)


I did about the same several years back. I had also looked at per student expenditures but quickly came to realize that they don't mean much of anything unless everything else is equeal. I learned to despise state level spending numbers because they are useless.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sat 7 Apr, 2007 10:42 am
Were you able to pick the public school that sozelet goes to? Here you can't do that until the upper grades (magnet schools) otherwise you just go to your neighborhood school. In fact, if we keep Mo in public schools we will probably move before middle school -- a half mile from here has a middle school that is a lot better than the one in our district.

I'm sure the private schools have more resources. At first glace it looks like the money pays for more teacher per student and classes like art, music and PE as part of the regular cirriculum.

I'm curious, fishin', about what your "everything else" being equal refers to in considering state spending levels.

I am truly a bonehead regarding education. It isn't something I thought I would ever have to deal with so I never really paid attention.
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fishin
 
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Reply Sun 8 Apr, 2007 06:19 am
boomerang wrote:
I'm curious, fishin', about what your "everything else" being equal refers to in considering state spending levels.

I am truly a bonehead regarding education. It isn't something I thought I would ever have to deal with so I never really paid attention.


What I meant Boomer is that different cities/towns have different reasons for their spending. Buildings and their upkeep usually cost more in a major city than they do in the 'burbs for example. That is a cost that the system bears but it isn't immediately visable when you see that the schools system spends $7,000/student.

Locally, the City of Boston is one of the highest per student spenders on Education. The last I saw Boston spent just over $10,000 per student per year. The best public school systems in the state spent right around $6,500 per student per year though.

So when I looked I had to limit comparisons to schools in cities/towns of similar size, with similar facilities, similar tax bases, etc...
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