David Gelernter and Sherry Turkle

I will be comparing the two stories of David Gelernter and Sherry Turkle. Gelernter’s story explains why children who use computers in schools are not learning basic skills, while Turkle’s story tells why children who use computers in school are actually changing the way people think in life. I will be showing their similarities throughout my paper. Both Gelernter and Turkle talk about using computers in the school system. They both believe that this does not help anyone learn it just changes the way we think or stops kids from wanting to open a book and learn something for themselves.

In Gelernter’s story, “Computers cannot Teach Children Basic Skills” he talks about the kids who learn from computers while in school instead of opening up a book and learning for themselves. He says “ While we bemoan the decline of literacy, computers discount words in favor of pictures and pictures in favor of video…we allow into the classroom software that will do a student’s arithmetic or correct his spelling” (Gelernter, 590).

He strongly believes that having auto corrects and flashing buttons do not help children learn and instead of wanting to read an article they would rather watch a video on it. Also in Sherry Turkle’s “How Computers Change the Way We Think” she says “It can make a dedicated students into better writers because it allows them to revise text, rearrange paragraphs, and experiment with the tone and shape of an essay…Yet the ability to quickly fill the page, to see it before you can think it, can make bad writers even worse” (Turkle, 605).

She believes that using the computer the right way you can make an amazing paper, but just typing away at a paper can turn something good into something horrible. There is no time to think of what you are typing, it just comes out. They both believe that without computers children would learn much better in this case. Without computers Gelernter believes children would still have to open a book and read it instead of getting on the computer to watch a video, and Turkle believes that writing down your thoughts allows you to think better before wildly typing away at your keyboard.

Both of these writers strongly believe that using computers in school the wrong way is doing more damage then good. Gelernter talks about kids in America that use calculators to do their math problems in school, principals saying “drilling addition and subtraction in an age of calculators is a waste of time”(Gelernter, 592). But a Japanese educator explains that they do not use calculators in elementary or middle school because it helps the kids develop a better mental ability.

Gelernter goes on to say “Drilling reading in an age of multimedia is a waste of time” (Gelernter, 592). He explains that if it were true with math then there wouldn’t be a different with reading. He claims that the Japanese children way surpass American children in math, and us using our calculators could be the problem. Turkle also has an opinion close to Gelernter, saying, “Some thinkers argue that the new opacity is empowering…but it is also true that our tools carry the message that they are beyond our understanding” (Turkle, 606).

She believes that just because we have the powerful tools does not mean that everyone uses them correctly to learn more efficiently. People will just use these tools and not know what they are truly doing. Just like with Gelernter explains with kids using calculators without actually knowing how to do math problems, Turkle is saying it also applies to people in their everyday lives.