News / Opinion

Sack the Mac

By GAUTHAM RONI, junior

I was once asked, “What is the greatest change you wish to see at JP?” In response, I humbly expressed my desire to have another custodian or two to keep up with the perpetual bathroom maintenance; after all, there is a hundred percent chance that one of the boys’ bathrooms is out of order at any given time. To my dismay, I instead saw the great influx of refurbished Macbook Airs into the learning environment, a move that was neither constructive to the school’s janitorial department nor the academic sector. The Macbook Air prompts an introspective question for our future: are we really taking a step forward with technological innovation in the school setting?  Whether we realize it or not, a slick hunk of metal is not what the student body needs right now.

Has it ever occurred to you that we were given a choice of which type of electronic device we preferred, rather than being questioned about whether or not we preferred an electronic device in the first place? Students, it is time to look past the glossy screens and to begin to weigh the odds yourselves. The Macbooks are about as free as your entire high school education – not free at all. Valuable tax money is directed to needless technological perks while the school turns a cold shoulder to the more pressing issues: unhealthy school lunches, defective bathrooms, copy machine malfunctions, and even shabby network connections to already existing PCs in our computer labs. This sudden urge to digitize seems more like a hasty attempt to improve the school’s image while leaving the more important issues unattended.

Furthermore, home computers have existed years before the advent of Macbooks, as well as other resources such as the library computers. At the end of the day, a majority of assignments can be completed on our home computers without breaking a sweat, which further weakens the need for a personal learning tool. A majority of textbooks are online, and some might even be surprised to hear that Microsoft Office 365 can be accessed free of cost with an Edison email. The “archaic” methods of completing assignments have so far proven to be satisfactory, so what critical advantages do the Macbooks really provide in terms of productivity?

Contrary to popular belief, personal laptops are not necessarily directly proportional to academic success. Ironically enough, the esteemed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia does not endorse the science and technology that comes packaged with school laptops. Frequently ranked as the nation’s leading high school, students in this high school have learned to transcend the materialistic aspects innate in personal laptops and have still proved to be some of the most forward thinkers in the nation. This school is from which JP needs to draw inspiration. The simplistic learning habits that Thomas Jefferson High School boast must pave the way for today’s institutions of learning; the mighty pen and paper have always been reliable surrogates for technology. Macbooks are not JP’s solution to the issues that really need addressing.

Face-to-face communication has been an invaluable medium for conveying ideas for years, but suddenly the laptop screen serves as an obstruction. It causes us to believe the false notion that computerized learning can lead to a more thorough learning experience. It is no different from handing a calculator to a struggling math student and expecting instantaneous results. While the students most certainly will begin to develop an unhealthy dependency on the Macbooks, the teachers might not be spared either. Bill Gates had once succinctly drawn the line between teachers and technology by stating, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” The history department is a testament to the benefits of simpler forms of teaching. Giving Macbooks to teachers will not enhance their teaching abilities; it is the way they are able to connect with their students on a deeper level that truly makes a difference.

Having a Macbook around is no different from browsing your phone during an important lecture; the room will ultimately fall into unbridled chaos. Not to mention, JP students are notorious for their intricate excuses involving assignment submissions. The burdensome routine of charging Macbooks adds a new shade of depth to these excuses. “My Macbook ran out of battery” will now replace the previously recurrent, “My printer ran out of ink.” As enticing as it is to waste class time, the repercussions will only sting when the misused time bites back during rigorous exams.

At the end of the day, Macbooks can come in handy for the occasional flash of amusement— I, too, am guilty of logging onto Google Sites to play unblocked games. However, I’d take my air conditioning, functioning paper machine, and healthy school lunches over online web-games any day. The next time you are handed that yellow contract for a Macbook, you might want to reconsider until our bathroom floor is as shiny as our Macbooks.

 

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