Monday, October 28, 2013

Scrap the iPads, Keep the Pianos, Get a Teacher #4

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “Scrap the iPads, Keep the Pianos, Get a Teacher #4” [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Superintendant of the Los Angeles Unified School District John Deasy has initiated a controversial one-billion-dollar initiative to equip all students and teachers with iPads. In reaction, L.A. elementary-school teacher Jeff Lantos, wrote an opinion piece in the L.A. Times titled “Scrap the iPads, keep the pianos: Want a device that can inspire, critique and put on a show? Get a teacher” at

Therein Lantos, recalling his 1986 positive experience with an Apple-funded program at the Open Magnet School in West Hollywood (spearheaded by Alan Kay, which placed computers into elementary-school classrooms, first offered strong evidence FOR the value of computers in the classroom.

But then Lantos seemed to switch fields, arguing AGAINST computers in the classroom in comparison with teachers and pianos. Lantos opined that (a) “if one wants a device that can inspire, critique and put on a show, get a teacher,” and (b) if it were to be a choice between iPads and pianos he would scrap iPads and keep the pianos. Lantos ends his essay with: “I have a piano in my classroom. My students start each school day with 15 minutes of singing and dancing. In January, I conducted an experiment. I said to my students: ‘We’re facing drastic budget cuts. We have to get rid of either the 15 laptops or the piano. Which should it be?’ I don’t think I have to tell you the response.”

However, considering Lantos’ earlier-cited strong evidence for the value of computers in the classroom, it’s not clear that everyone would vote the same way as Lantos’ elementary-school pupils. Furthermore, considering the importance of education to the lives of people and to life on Planet Earth – see e.g., “ ‘Where is Everybody’ . . . .” [Hake (2013)] at (6.8 MB) - the choice for the U.S. should not be to pick one, two, or none from among computers, pianos, and teachers, but to chose ALL three of those benefits and to work towards the reduction of poverty, the root causes of poor academic performance in the U.S. - see e.g., “Hake's Reading List on the Root Causes of Poor Academic Performance” [Ravitch (2013)] at

To access the complete 61 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University. LINKS TO: Academia; Articles; Blog; Facebook; GooglePlus; Google Scholar; Linked In; Research Gate; Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs; Twitter

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” - H. G. Wells (1920) in The Outline of History.

REFERENCES [URL shortened by and accessed on 28 Oct. 2013.]
Hake, R.R. 2013. “Scrap the iPads, Keep the Pianos, Get a Teacher #4,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives Post of 28 Oct 2013 14:32:57-0400 to AERA-L and NetGold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to various discussion lists.

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