Are iPod Banning Schools Cheating Our Kids? 3

So many college students I’ve met — even at some of the nation’s top universities — are there because they have an aptitude for memorization. Many straight-A high school students have few interests, little curiosity and zero inclination toward intellectual discovery. Our system rewards the memorizers and punishes the creative thinkers.


An iPod, when used during tests, is nothing more than a machine that stores and spits out data. By banning iPods and other gadgets, we’re teaching kids to actually become iPods — to become machines that store and spit out data. Instead, we should be teaching them to use iPods — to use that data and to be human beings who can think — and leave data storage to the machines.


By banning iPods, we’re preparing our kids for a world without the Internet, a world without iPods, a world without electronic gadgets that can store information. But is that the world they’re going to live in?

Let me pull out a bit of the above for emphasis:

Many straight-A high school students have few interests, little curiosity and zero inclination toward intellectual discovery. Our system rewards the memorizers and punishes the creative thinkers.

That nearly knocked me off my chair. Who do we want eventually running our libraries? Rote memorizers or creative thinkers. To me, the answer is obvious and as I prepare for my third year of full time teaching, I see where the emphasis should be.

3 thoughts on “Are iPod Banning Schools Cheating Our Kids?

  • Victoria A. Petersen

    I’ve always wondered about the memorization tendency; yes, you are learning facts, but what do you do with them? And if you do nothing with these facts, how can you put them to good use?

    Since getting my Technology Manager job last year at the Mancos Public Library, I feel that I’ve learned so much; in addition to reading more non-fiction than ever before, I’ve started reading blogs (TTW and Chris Brogan were my first :), learning about Web/Library 2.0, and actively started commenting on blogs and social sites such as Twitter and FriendFeed. Also, in about 6 months or so of participating in Second Life I am now creating exhibits and volunteering for educational conferences.

    Overall, the web and the people I have met here have made my mind active again – more so that I ever felt in college, learning by rote. I’m expanding my world, teaching others about what I’m learning, and feeling challenged like never before.

    I can only hope that creative thinking processes do trickle down to the higher education world, and let students engage their mind instead of their memorization skills.

  • Sarah

    I am disappointed in what seems to be the unquestioned acceptance of the statement as fact without critical debate as to its validity. Am I to believe that all straight A students are tight-booties who spend their education memorizing textbook formulas like robots? They don’t have any intellectual curiosity about the subject matter being taught to them? I don’t believe it.

    However poorly *emphasized*, I do get your point: assignments and assessments should be carefully designed so as to reward complex and creative thinking and not rote memorization. Although educators can’t ignore issues related to academic honesty, using that argument to shut down the use of technologies – without exploring their potential use for learning – seems very shortsighted. iPods in education – now that’s a good idea. 🙂

  • Brendan

    The author of the CW piece, and many others who put forward these arguments against what they perceive as an emphasis on rote memorization, missed the point of the exercises and have little insight into early pedagogy. In your primary and secondary schooling you are building both the foundational knowledge which will serve your critical thinking later, as well as the capacity to remember bits of information. It’s more than just the subject matter it’s the skills acquisition that is important. Simplifying human memory into ‘a machine that stores and spits out data’ is an insult. Information is entered into human memory, but from that point on it will become something much different, ask Akutagawa. Critical thinking is forged on the anvil of memory, the connections you make consciously are augmented by many more made subconsciously.

Comments are closed.