William Hammett, Independent Ghostwriter

Writing Sample ~ Nonfiction ~ Education

Note: The following excerpt has been used with the permission of a former client and/or the publisher. Please note that I can adjust my prose style for a particular genre, and the following is not intended to represent my full range of styles or the number of genres I consider. For nonfiction, the level of complexity can be adjusted depending on client preference. .

When computers became accessible to almost everyone in the 1990s, educators said that a revolution in the way children would learn had begun at last. The Internet then exploded in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, and educators expanded their prediction, citing that a computer in every classroom was a paradigm shift and would ensure that test scores would in all disciplines included in both the sciences and the liberal arts. Every child would have access to unlimited knowledge thanks to the World Wide Web.

Thatís not how things worked out. Test scores for all disciplines taught in grammar schools and high schools declined. The truth was that computer time in the classroom was limited to an hour per student each week, and that time was used to make students learn coding, such as BASIC and COBOL since the brain trusts at university departments of curriculum and instruction thought that all students needed to know how computers worked before >actually using them to acquire knowledge.

Things got worse. When the point-and-click era dawned, making it unnecessary to understand programming, students were told to perform routine lessons on computers – reading books and solving math problems – that could be done just as easily with textbooks or paper and pencil. There were no assignments requiring students to log on and blaze new trails in how to research topics and or evaluate different points of view about a given topic, such as historical events, philosophical concepts, or varying interpretations of literature.

As time wore on, computers became a distraction and one of the biggest impediments to learning in the classroom since Johnny discovered that he could disrupt a class by pulling a girlís pigtails and dipping them in an inkwell. Students had discovered computer games, porn sites, email, and instant messaging.

Today, students use computers to log onto school websites from home >in order to find out what their assignments are, the ones that they didnít bother to write down at school. They can also post homework online depending on a teacherís preference. The problem is that their essays and term papers are as badly written as ever. In fact, theyíre worse. In an age when learning was supposed to have made the quantum leap, studentsí attention spans have been fractured by the digital age. In classrooms, there is no more repetition and drill – no learning the basic concepts of grammar. What is a subject and what is a verb? What is syntax? How does one properly punctuate a sentence? Indeed, what is a sentence and what is a sentence fragment? Spelling and vocabulary skills have declined as well, and the reason is that students no longer read very many books (if any) because cell phones and laptops are used all day long to check social media.

Did the computer radically change education? Yes. The computer has dumbed down our kids and set education back a hundred years. Critical thinking and a real understanding of the disciplines that have been taught for centuries donít exist. If someone wants to find an answer to a question, they turn to Google. Scholarship is dying a rapid death.

 William Hammett

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