May 01, 2012


On the front page of a recent edition of the London Free Press, I read the headline: Kids, today's letter is 'i' - as in iPod.  I learned that hundreds of kindergarten and JK pupils are part of a pilot project using iPod Touches to teach them how to "use applications, send e-mails, take pictures, listen to stories online and more".  The school board paid for 40 iPod Touch kits at $1200 a pop, while the Ministry of Education footed the $25,000 bill to train the teachers.

Surely I cannot be the only one who thinks that this is a terrific idea.  Why not give all of the children laptops while they're at it?  Oh wait. Laptops have gone the way of the dinosaur, like books.  Right.  Maybe they should all get iPads instead.  Because kids NEED to spend more time interacting with technology -  playing outside is so 1980.

I like my iPod, most of the time.  I use it to listen to books on tape (yes, I still call them that even though tape has migrated to cd, which has migrated to mp3... and so on) and for listening to tunes in the car.  I borrow compact discs from the library, import them into iTunes and then transfer the music onto the iPod.  A bit onerous, but free.  I did buy one song from iTunes on one occasion (it was an Old Man Luedecke song about bacon that I couldn't get out of my head), but I find my system works for me.  I also borrow children's books and transfer those files to the iPod for the kids.  I used to read novels aloud to them, once they progressed beyond picture books, but since I have polyps and some vocal cord dysfunction, I find this works better for me.

I asked my 8-year-old if he thought that Kindergarten students should have iPods.  He paused briefly and said "they're expensive and they'll wreck them, like if they drop it".

Good point, Nathaniel!  I hadn't even considered that, even though we own one broken iPod. One of the kids dropped it; the power button is broken and you can't turn the blasted thing off.  It's permanently on; it always requires a recharge.  That glowing screen is no beacon in the night for me!

Not to be outdone, my 6-year-old said "they'll get addicted and want to play video games all the time".

From the mouths of babes... "Yeah," Nathaniel piped in.  "Because they're starting so young".

I'm not sure why a kindergardener needs to use email.  Oh wait, to set up play-dates with classmates.  Why don't we give them all iPhones so they can call their friends too.   Duh.  Calling is also so 1980.  They can text their friends instead.  Once their new iPod teaches them how to read and write.  Brilliant!

Let children be children, for Christ's sake.  As for the literacy aspect of the iPod (maybe they will be listening to stories online?); I agree that children need to learn to read.  And we already have a perfectly inexpensive and durable technology that helps them do this.  It's called a book, people.  Those old-fashioned paper products that you actually have to physically turn the pages of using gasp your actual  fingers.  And that can withstand being dropped.  And that do not require a recharge or batteries.  And that you don't need an owner's manual for.  And that cost a hell of a lot less than $1200!

Here's a link to that hilarious Old Man Luedecke song that I bought.  OML is waxing on about the scent of bacon cooking...

I opened up a book, on the shelf near my Bible.
Opened up a book for culinary survival.
I took a look in 
The Joy of Cookin'
Joy of Cookin', 
oh, why, oh?
If I'm not mistaken, 
the answer’s bacon
Answer's bacon, 
oh, why, oh?