Until the last century, mathematics was always motivated by applications (Kline, 1973: iv); it took humanity an enormous time span to reach the abstraction capacity necessary to become interested in ‘pure’ mathematics. It follows that children take some time to reach the necessary mental maturity to deal with the formalism and type of thinking involved in abstracts and mathematics. It is interesting to note that in many countries, 21 (the end of this 7-year period) is the age for a young person to become legally responsible.
It is a recognition, that only at this age are all human capacities fully available, and the individual is able to control and be totally responsible for his or her actions (Steiner, 1982; Talbot, 1995 and Bronfenbrenner, 1995). In conclusion, this paper supported my aim to prove that the extensive implementation of computers in pre-high school education is having a detrimental effect on the development of children.
The first argument I presented to support my aim is that computer technology is ecological and like all technology may have long reaching effects on children’s emotional, psychological, spiritual, moral and social sensibilities. Fostering a mechanical, rational view of social relationships. Secondly, I argued that a computer is a tool, and to be effective it is necessary children understand what it is and how it works.
Just as a child’s physical development is stunted when muscles are not exercised, the development of disciplined thinking is stunted when the computer relieves the child of the responsibility for planning and organizing his/her thoughts before expressing them. It should be kept in mind that tools designed to aid the mature mind may hinder the maturation of the developing mind. Thirdly, I supported my aim by arguing that computers work with an extremely restricted class of children’s thoughts.
It was demonstrated that early computer use and an emphasis on computer like thinking, is leading children’s development to be dominated by the rigid, logical, algorithmic thinking, that is characteristic of computer interaction. This accelerated, but isolated intellectual development, brings a child’s mental abilities to an adult level long before they have grown strong enough to restrain it and give it humane direction. The fourth argument presented to support my aim was, that how computers are used in education is detrimental to children’s development.
Children need time for active, physical play; hands-on lessons of all kinds, especially in the arts; and direct experience of the natural world. The prevalent emphasis on technology is diverting us from the urgent social and liberal educational needs of children. A proper education requires attention to students from good teachers and active parents. It requires commitment to developmentally appropriate education and attention to the full range of children’s needs; physical, emotional, and social, as well as cognitive.
Finally and most importantly I demonstrated that developmental stages in children are not compatible with computer use. Combining Steiner, Bloom and Krathwohl developmental concepts with the fact that computers are mathematical tools, forcing a purely abstract and mathematical type of thinking as well as use of symbolic formal language. Applying these concepts and properties of computers to proper educational goals we may surmise that they are unsuitable for extensive use by children in any form before approximately age 15, or high school.
Convincing arguments have been presented to prove the extensive implementation of computers in pre-high school education is having a detrimental effect on the development of children.
Bloom, B. and D. Krathwohl. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1: The Cognitive Domain. New York: McKay, 1956. Bronfenbrenner, U. Developmental Ecology Through Time and Space: A Future Perspective in Examining Lives in Context: Perspectives on the Ecology of Human Development, (Moen, Elder and Luscher [Ed.]). Washington: American Psychology Association, 1995.
Bowers, C. A. The Cultural Dimensions of Educational Computing – Understanding the Non-neutrality of Technology. New York: Teachers College Press, 1988 Coon, D. Essentials of Psychology: Exploration and Application (8th edition). USA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 1999 Craig, G. , M. Kermis and N. Digdon. Children Today (2nd edition). Toronto: Prentice Hall. 2001 Kline, M. Why Johnny Can’t Add – the Failure of New Math. New York: St. Martin’s, 1973.