The Best of Creative Computing Volume 2 (published 1977)

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A Fable (on computers in education, reprinted from May 1972 issue of Computer Mediamation)

graphic of page

[image]A FABLE
[image]Once upon a time, long before they invented the ball point pen (even
before they invented the pencil), teachers used to teach by lecturing to the
students who memorized every word their teacher said. Memorizing was the only
way to learn.

One day a bright young man came up to his teacher and said:

"Sir, I have invented a pencil."

"What is a pencil?" asked the Teacher.

"It is a device to assist you in teaching and assist us in learning," replied
the Student.

"What do I do with it? If I eat it will it help me memorize better? If my
students eat it will it help them memorize better?"

"No," said the student. "If you use it and we use it we won't have to memorize
at all."

"What kind of teaching would that be, without lecturing and without memorizing?
How will I know if my students are learning if they don't memorize and recite
for me?"

"That's easy," replied the student. "You will ask them to write what they have

"Write?" queried the Teacher.

"Oh, that's something they will have to learn to do before they can use the

"And how long does learning to write take?"

"Perhaps a year."

"You mean to say that I will have to wait a whole year before students can use
your new method for learning? Then they will come to class and write down what I
say. What is the difference between that and memorizing right now, without
learning to write?"

"Well, for one thing, the slow students will be able to keep up by reading the


"Another skill they have to acquire."


"That you will prepare."

"You mean I have to do more work with your new method of learning? I like
memorizing better. I still see no advantage."

"But sir, the advantages will present themselves once the system is in
operation, because there will be so many things students and teachers will be
able to do that they could not do before."

"You have to prove it to me before I will make any radical change like you
suggest. Anyhow, haven't we always learned by memorizing'?"

MORAL: Newton's 2nd Law that a body at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by
an outside force is not just a law of physics.

This article is reprinted from the May, 1972, issue or Computer Mediamation. In
the words of the newsletter's editor, Dr. Sam Spero, "Computer Mediamation is an
occasional publication of the Educational Media Center of Cuyahoga Community
College, Cleveland, Ohio. Its purpose is to motivate faculty to examine the
potential of computers in instruction. The newsletter explores all the ways that
a computer can be used as a medium ("...means, agency or instrumentality...")
for implementing any or all facets of the instruction process."



Approved, with CASE, Recharger ANd INSTrucTION MANUAL.


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