An article written by senior editor Kathleen K. Wiegner celebrated what technology would do to transform education. In the next issue, the magazine published a dissenting commentary written initially as an internal memo by its technology editor, Stephen Kindel. He wrote:
“What kind of transformation will computer generate in kids? It could well be a lot less than all the hype would indicate. Just as likely as producing far more intelligent kids is the possibility that you will create a group of kids fixated on screens – television, videogame, or computer. The notion of learning at your own speed is a hoary educational cliché beloved by computer ed folks. In theory it sounds wonderful. In fact, it eliminates the community of the classroom, turns the student into a lone figure engaged in a yearlong dialog with a disembodied voice. What would happen to class discussion – and, more important, the sense of rubbing against other minds?”
Kindel observed that “the computer is a tool, like a hammer or a wrench, not a philosophers’ stone” and that “education depends on the intimate contact between a good teacher – part performer, part dictator, part cajoler – and an inquiring student. The importance of the teacher is not necessarily as a conveyor of information but as a catalyst to interest students in learning for themselves.” He predicted that when this revolution came to pass, the poor would get computers, and the rich would get teachers. Of course, that isn’t quite right. The rich get both computers and teachers.
Diane Ravitch, 2011