The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved

Is American education in crisis?

Todd Oppenheimer argues that, at a cost of more that $70 billion, students and schools have become victims of the false promise of the miracle of computers and the Internet. The unrelenting onslaught of computers and the Internet in schools is exacting a terrible price beyond just shortfalls in school budgets – the further deterioration of children’s ability to reason and imagine. As the author demonstrates, every time a science class is computerized or a music program is shut down to pay for new hardware, the fundamentals of learning are sadly lost. Moreover, the book reveals how schools have become fertile ground for technology companies to inflate their costs and institute corrupt payment schemes, involving such giant companies as NEC, Verizon, and IBM.

Oppenheimer does not discount the value of computers in the classroom, but rather he advocates a more intelligent and effectual use of them. For example, where computers might have a negative effect on younger children, older students certainly benefit from learning how to use fundamental software that will help them in the workforce. Or, computers can be put to a practical use by showing students how they are actually made and how they work – by taking them apart in technical classes that will unlock the mysteries of these miracles of technologies, students benefit with some real hands on experience.

Speaker Details

Todd Oppenheimer works as a journalist at The Writers Grotto, a San Francisco collective for freelance writers, filmmakers and others devoted to the narrative arts. During his 25 years as a journalist, Oppenheimer has won a variety of national awards for his writing and investigative reporting and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including ABC’s “Nightline.” His articles have appeared in Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Mother Jones, and an assortment of daily and weekly newspapers. This book is an expansion of one particular article, “The Computer Delusion,” a 1997 cover story for The Atlantic Monthly which won a National Magazine Award for public interest reporting.Oppenheimer comes to writing from a long history in the arts and education. He has been a calligrapher and portrait sculptor and spent five years as a professional actor in New York City, where he also worked as a mime partner with Robin Williams. He serves on the board of San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, is a former board member of the Seven Tepees Youth Program for underprivileged children, and has volunteered at San Francisco’s Mission High School as advisor to its school newspaper. In 1998 he was named the city’s School Volunteer of the Year. He is a native of San Francisco, where he lives with his wife, Anh, and son, A.J.

Todd Oppenheimer