- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New Ed edition (September 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684855399
- ISBN-13: 978-0684855394
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,135,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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FAILURE TO CONNECT: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds -- and What We Can Do About It Paperback – October 15, 1999
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Dr. Dorothy Rich Founder and President, the Home and School Institute, and author of MegaSkills: Building Children's Achievement for the Information Age Jane Healy knows what she is talking about. I strongly urge all educators, as well as parents, to read this new book now...before it's too late.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention Failure to Connect sounds a wake-up call for teachers and parents who believe that computers alone will solve our educational problems. The bottom line: Adult attention rather than gigabytes is what makes children grow.
About the Author
Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. is a teacher and educational psychologist who has worked with young people of all ages, from pre-school to graduate school. She has been a classroom teacher, reading and learning specialist, school administrator, and clinician. She is currently a lecturer and consultant, and the author of three books about how children do (and don’t) learn, Your Child’s Growing Mind, Endangered Minds, and Failure to Connect. She and her work have been featured in national media such as CNN and NPR. She has twice been named “Educator of the Year” by Delta Kappa Gamma, the professional honor society of women educators. Jane and her husband claim they have learned most of what they know from raising three sons and enjoying six grandchildren.
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Jane Healy, Ph.D., has been an educator for more than 35 years, including experience as a classroom teacher, elementary school administrator, and college professor. She begins her book with a discussion of how the whole technological revolution is almost of a religious fervor. To research her book, she spent hundreds of hours visiting classrooms and homes to watch kids interact with their computers.
Healy maintains that parents who purchase software for their babies have been sold a bill of goods. She says that there is no evidence that computers and software will make kids smarter. Rather, it may be doing them more harm than good.
In Chapter One, Healy expresses concern about how technology is shaping children's growing brains, saying "The younger the mind, the more malleable it is. The younger the technology is, the more unproven it is." She believes educators - and parents - should carefully consider the potential- and irrevocable - effects of this new electronic technology.
She calls this exposing of young children- generally, babies - age seven or eight -, a "vast and optimistic experiment," and that "It is well financed and enthusiasticlly supported by major corporations, the public at large, and government officials around the world." She says that there is no proof- or even convincing evidence- that it will be successful in enriching our youngster's minds and lives, or that society will benefit and education will be permanently changed for the better.
Far from being a "techno-phobe," Healy was, at one time, a big believer in the benefits of children using computers. But, after her hundreds of hours in the field, "picking the brains" of leaders in the field, and research, she has now come to the conclusion that we are rushing into something with "far too much money with too little thought," saying "It is past time to pause, reflect, and ask some probing questions."
She answers many questions in her book about computer use by children, such as how and when a child should begin using a computer, what kind of software is appropriate for different ages, which ones may be harmful, and why, and how do we balance education and entertainment.
Too often, Healy says, parents are seduced by "the glitz and novelty of this wondrous equipment." She adds that "Experience suggests we should temper our enchantment with a critical look at whether anything educational is really being accomplished."
This is a fascinating look at the effects computers have on children. While she acknowledges that there may be times when computers could be useful, they are seldom as helpful as many believe. She encourages parents and educators to take a long, hard look at what is passing for computer "learning," and to not be beguiled in thinking that our children are are really learning by merely "pressing some buttons."
For parents who are interested, there is a study guide in the back of the book that is helpful for those who wish to have a study group using this book, or to just get more out of it themselves.
Dr. Healy addresses the misconception that computers and educational software is the "key to successful student achievement". After countless hours in classrooms observing and talking to teachers and students, Dr. Healy suggests that perhaps many parents and educators "want to believe that technology is the `magic bullet' that will take care of problems in our education system that previously failed to be addressed" (p. 18). Consequently, she believes too much emphasis is placed on technology, taking away from the development of basic reading, math and problem solving skills.
The underlying question that surfaces throughout this book is "do computers and technology truly improve student learning and achievement?" According to the author, there is little evidence to support the use of technology as a necessity or benefit to student success (pp. 105-106). The author goes on to suggest that students, especially younger students, should be carefully monitored and limited in their computer use (p. 110). In her research, Dr. Healy found that students who spent large quantities of time on the computer: (1) did little work of educational value, (2) interacted minimally with others, and (3) reduced their attention, listening and problem solving skills (p. 40). Dr. Healy offers parents and educators guidelines to use that address the potentially damaging effect of prolonged computer use by children (p. 66).
Many of the questions about technology and learning, which parents and educators may not have contemplated, are addressed in this book. The examples provided by the author are relevant and provide insights and perspectives of parents, teachers and students. The author's passion and support for teaching and learning is evident as she encourages adults to attend to the intellectual and social needs of children as opposed to allowing technology to take over this role.
Dr. Healy provides a thorough, thought-provoking review of technology and its impact on learning. It is evident that more research is necessary in this field to establish best practices and standards for the use of technology for academic purposes. Based on this valuable information, the school community will likely have a different perspective of technology use in education. I strongly recommend this book to any parent or educator who wants to learn more about the implications of technology and the academic and social development of children.