TOS: Yes, a lot of us are going paper-free.
KIM: Yes, exactly. And so the textbooks
as we know them—I think they’re gone.
They’re on their way out.
TOS: Iagree. Ihomeschool, and wedon’t use many textbooks. As computers have allowed many of us to work from home, what do you think about their potential
impact on the traditional classroom? For
example, with web conferencing and the
plethora of resources and the information
available through the Internet, do you
think we’re moving toward a classroom-less education, a self-taught society? Or
do you think we will always be dependent
on the traditional teacher to facilitate
KIM: You know, that’s a really interesting question. I’m thinking of my son
right now; I don’t think that he could
self-teach. It wouldn’t work. As many
resources as I would throw at him . . .
there are too many diversions.
KIM: I think there needs to be some
type of structured environment, whether
TOS: Another question: With the big
push for preschool education, what
role, if any, do you see for computer
devices in the education of toddlers and
KIM: It can be assisting, but it can’t
be a total replacement. For example, at
my son’s school they don’t let them use
calculators. We’ve all gone into a local
convenient store and given the clerk $2,
and the computer’s down, and it’s $1.85,
and you look at them and go, “Fifteen
cents.” They can’t add.
Getting back to the involvement,
we had all those Baby Einstein CDs
and DVDs that were out, which were
supposedly going to make our children
smarter and better. When really it was
just nothing more than a diversion on
the screen. Well, a parent needs a break
every now and then, which is fine, but
let’s not call it “educational.”
With preschool, one of the things
I wrestled with, when my son was that
age, was what age do you put them on
a computer? The Leapster, that’s a good
product, because I think they are learning
things along the way. I never gave my
son a “kid keyboard” that overlays the
other one. Let them learn the right way.
Let them learn the way it’s supposed to
be. If he hits two keys, that’s wrong; if
he hits one key, that’s fine. We have a
lot of technology that’s great, but I think
it can just be part of a mix, not a total
replacement. I think we still need to go
back to basics and rote learning.
I’m not an educational specialist, but I
can tell you that right now I’m becoming
fluent in Spanish. And I can’t tell you
how much I’m referring back to my high
school Spanish in doing this. All these
years later, I can see . . . I don’t remember
her name, but it was something like
“Sister Mary,” who said, “Lunes, martes,
miercoles,” the days of the week. And we
were all vomiting.
But now as I’m trying to become bilingual, I see Sister Mary. She’s popping in my head because of the way that I was taught. So, it’s not just in preschool. I think as we go through there’s a foundation there that all of us need to remember, even at 3 or 4 or 5. We have promises of technology that will help our children. I just think that it’s more [an issue of] assistance rather than replacement.
TOS: So maybe preschoolers need
more hands-on, more doing?
KIM: Yeah! You know what? Yes! Let
them play with clay and crayons. Let
them go outside. Let them experience
what the real world is about. Let them
I took my niece and nephew and my son
with us to the Galapagos Islands. There was
no technology: no Internet, no television,
no movies. And you know what we did?
We looked at the stars. And we talked a lot.
And we played games. And I sat there and
I looked at these kids, and I thought, “You
know what, there’s something to be said
for this.” So, I think we should help them
experience life . . . . With the preschoolers,
we can use the technology, but we also
have to let go of it.
TOS: True. Along that line, some people
say that computers and calculators and
services such as Cha-Cha and Google
are making us lazy and dumbing us down.
Do you believe there is any truth to that?
And should we be concerned?
KIM: You know what? I have found
that within myself. My spelling—I
don’t know what happened to you,
but my spelling is pathetic. And I’m
a professional journalist! . . . It’s like
Google will fix it for you: “Oh, you
didn’t mean that? You meant this?” Okay,
yeah. Sure. That’s what I meant.
And now I’m writing and I’m noticing
that Microsoft Word is underlining a lot
more words than it used to. [Laughter]
So, and especially now with Google, it
has that instant search on. I turned it o;.
[Laughter] Did you turn it o; too?
TOS: Yes. Yes, I did. [Laughter]
KIM: Yes, because you know what, let
me find what I’m looking for! I don’t want
them to tell me what they want me to see.
I want to find it. . . . I have Google on my