In a move that is being widely praised the headmaster of one of Australia’s most prestigious private schools has banned laptops in the classroom because, he says, they are “distracting” for students.
Sydney Grammar has banned students from bringing laptops to school and now requires them to handwrite assignments and essays until Year 10.
The headmaster of Sydney Grammar School, John Vallance told The Australian that the students would be able to access computers only in the school computer lab.
“We see teaching as fundamentally a social activity,’’ he said.
“It’s about interaction between people, about discussion, about conversation.”
“We find that having laptops or iPads in the classroom inhibit conversation — it’s distracting.”
Dr Vallance told the newspaper that he wasn’t anti technology.
“I love gadgets. It’s partly because we all love gadgets so much that we have these rules, otherwise we’d all just muck about. Technology is a servant, not a master.”
“You can’t end up allowing the tail to wag the dog,” he said.
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For the headmaster at the elite school the key to classroom success is conversation but he says technology is having a “powerful normative effect.”
“It’s making it quite difficult for children to learn how to disagree, how not to toe the party line, because they can’t question things — the possibility of questioning things has been taken away from them.”
Dr Vallance said the school studied students in years three and five and found creative writing tasks were more successful with handwritten submissions instead of using a keyboard.
This idea to ban electronic devices, which many are saying should be nation-wide isn't a unique one - though some schools take it to much greater extremes.
In the UK London’s “Acorn” school bans all technology - smartphones, iPads, interactive whiteboards and all screens. There are no laptops, no movies, no Internet.