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A Turtle Teaches Cyberspace Ethics

Worried that computer-savvy kids are growing up with little guidance on how to be good online citizens, the federal government is introducing a friendly new mentor for the Internet generation.

Roger Fidler predicted the future of computing more than 20 years ago. The recent slate of tablet PCs is evidence that Fidler's vision has begun to arrive.

Such a question is usually satisfied with a simple, quick, response like, "fine" or "cold." The question, "What was the last time your discussed the rationale for what you teach?" may also be answered with one word. Never.

One of the best things that ever happened to my younger brother is that he decided not to go to college. By the time he was a high school senior, he was sick of school. "Academically tracked," he despised the expectations people put on him, and the relentless exhortations that with his abilities he should be doing better. They told him he had doctor or lawyer potential but had to work harder to make it real. But he found schoolwork boring and decided that when he graduated he'd surprise everyone by just saying no to college.

Blocked Web sites, IT staff that exist to hinder staff, and restrictive policies make integrating technology too hard to overcome

I recently spent a week teaching in a wonderful school. The school sits on a gorgeous sprawling campus. The principal is well read and charming. The students were delightful and the teachers generous with their hospitality. Every student has his or her own laptop. I was engaging the children in activities I love, and yet I found the overall experience excruciating. Why? Because of an information technology staff run amok.

Ms. Jones has been teaching English for 10 years, and the community loves her. She's creative, energetic and great with kids. However, she frustrates her principal. Last year, he purchased six computers for her classroom and sent her to a week-long workshop on integrating technology. Still, the computers sit idle most of the time. Ms. Jones says she doesn't have time to cover the state-assessed English curriculum and teach technology.

I am an enthusiastic user and advocate of digital technology. I am not a utopian and I appreciate how colleagues and pundits alike remind us to be aware of the potential negatives associated with technology use. As far as I can tell, the greatest downside of the computing and communications revolution is that every two-bit, weasely politician and mediocre educational bureaucrat in the world has read Peter Drucker.