High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian
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High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The cry for and against computers in the classroom is a topic of concern to parents, educators, and communities everywhere. Now, from a Silicon Valley hero and bestselling technology writer comes a pointed critique of the hype surrounding computers and their real benefits, especially in education. In High-Tech Heretic, Clifford Stoll questions the relentless drumbeat for "...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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I just finished reading High Tech Heretic by Clifford Stoll. Stoll, an
apparently famous technology writer who's written two novels that I've never heard of before, is knowledgeable about the computer industry. In his book he attempts to argue against the increasing use of computers in the classroom. I'll be the first to admit that he has several very strong points that are not to be ignored. He discusses the lack of rigor and human interaction in the classroom. He's correct in his analysis that...more
The details in Stoll's book are already becoming obsolete, but that doesn't make his points any less true. And that is really the point of the book: computers are a tool, not a panacea, and we do ourselves a disservice to think otherwise. Learning well is still hard work. It's not enough to know how to use a calculator without understanding numbers well enough to check the answers the calculator gives. Pre-school students need play, not keyboard practice. Books are more important to libraries th...more
Chris Aylott
The most entertaining thing about this book is how quaint it sounds. CD-ROMs! Dial-up modems! Network cables! Everybody's playing Myst! (Which was kind of out of date even when the book was published in 1999.) It's fun to think back 13 years and realize just how much technology has changed.

Other than that, this isn't much more than a collection of repetitive and ill-founded rants. Stoll's basic point is correct: computers shouldn't be the focal point of education or any other sphere of life. But...more
Christopher DeMarcus
A light and ranty version of many arguments found in Postman's Technopoly. While older readers will be more likely to pick it up, younger readers would benefit the most. The rants about sitting through boring Powerpoint presentations and the validity of old fashioned books were some of the best.
Stoll's book is a mixed bag; unfortunately, most of it is bad. While many of his points about the affect of computers in the classroom are valid and confirmed by my time in education, the good points are mired in a nearly unreadable stream-of-consciousness writing style that reeks more of "bitter old coot" rather than "scientist and educator". Without the harsh tone, there's some good stuff in here. Most of that stuff, however, is pretty obvious and not worth wading through this book to find.
Apr 11, 2008 Criz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with kids and computers
This is a well thought out collection of points for anybody thinking that kids and computers are a good fit. He systematically disassembles each argument for putting computers in the classroom and provides a number of solutions to prevent the US from becoming a tech/biz consultant career machine.

The instructions for creating an aquarium out of an old mac is a fun bonus.
Matthew Klippenstein
Points which were probably valid for the time period. Unfortunately, the apparent success of the iPad at improving learning, and the spectacular success of the Khan Academy, will make a lot of people conclude he was really, really wrong. (Whereas, as per above, he was probably correct at the time.)
Rob O'Daniel
Some of the examples are dated, which I'm certain will be an immediate put-off for superficial readers, but this is an insightful look into the dangers of the "technology is good, so let's shovel it at kids" mindset that's overtaking public schools.
I've published my thoughts and reflections elsewhere.
Ed Walker
A good read if you want something to offset the starry-eyed hype that computers are the key to happiness and success.
cliff stoll's rant against computers in education. awesome.
for the heretics out there. read it.
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