David Gelernter Unplugged Summary

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Technology and Arithmetics: The Coming of New Age Technology in Classrooms

"Unplugged" is an 1994 essay written for The New Republic magazine by David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor. In this essay, Gelernter claims that computers in schools can be good in a certain criteria, but can also be detrimental in actually learning the material.

He writes, "While we worry about basic skills, we allow into the classroom software that will do a student's arithmetic or correct his spelling" (309). Gelernter argues that to actually see the potential in computers at school, we must agree on three conditions. There should be a new take on children's software, computers should only be used during a time of relaxation and, finally, computers should be used as a helping tool in academics and not taking the place of a teacher.

Gelernter states in the first condition, that there should be a new take on children's software because in many cases, there is no imagination involved. "There are hundreds of similar reading and geography and arithmetic programs, but almost nothing on electricity or physics or architecture" (311). Children have become less able to produce
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The article was published in The New Republic, a well known American liberal magazine, which originated in 1914 by major leaders in the Progressive Movement. According to The New Republic official site, they claim the magazine attempted to find a balance between progressivism focused in humanitarianism and moral passion, but also sought a basis in scientific analysis of social issues. Gelernter’s language in some areas is inflated, some of his words I had to look up, but in his context, I could mostly understand the sentence without necessarily looking up the definitions. He uses such words like; bemoan, fillips, agglomerate and surrogate. These words being suited for a graduate student or someone of a higher
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