July 19, 2016
An Apple a day, they say keeps the doctor away. But this city school’s diktat, “an Apple per child” has scared few parents into withdrawing their wards – as the Apple the school was forcing them to buy was proving to be very costly, and if they had more than one child, prohibitive too.
Suguna Pips, an upmarket school in Coimbatore has embarked upon this idea supposedly to introduce technology to the children.
The school fell for it, or for the commission, an upset parent commented. The result was that many parents who did not want to dish out huge amount for a gadget, for a child studying in Class II, pulled out their child instead.
Likewise, there were many parents who thought it was a better idea to look for a different school than Suguna Pips that added smart gadget to the list of compulsory stationery they have to purchase from the school.
School authorities defended the scheme and rather aggressively marketed the Ipads to the parents asserting that these were an investment on the child as the new technology made learning faster and fun.
A father of two children said he had to purchase iPads for his children studying in different classes. Every student from Class II to onwards must carry an iPad.
“We believe in technology as an important partner to conventional education,” said Dr Vish, president, Suguna Pips.
“We introduced iPads in school to keep pace with the modern learning process and to benefit from the sound, motion and visualization techniques.
“Textbook concepts come alive on iPads,” he said.
iPad apps that act as a catalyst for enjoyable classroom learning are evolving phenomenally, so we opted for this product, which cost Rs27,000 at a reduced price, said Dr Vish.
iPads were introduced in school after two years of research on its streamlined benefits to students, he said. “We ensure schoolwork on the iPad takes just an hour,” Dr Vish said.
Besides, it reduces the weight the students have to carry.
“Because it is the best,” comes the answer even before you finish the question.
Clearly, the Apple sellers have logged into the Indian education system, and how.
Abdul Rahman, floor manager, iPlanet, said that Apple is a high end product with advanced software and that they targeted colleges for their sales.
“We offered iPads to Suguna Pips on a discounted rate, and agreed to supply 550 devices. But 230 were cancelled as that many students left the school,” he said.
It may be good business for the company that manufactures and sells the gadgets, but the impact of the such machines on tiny tots would be difficult to calculate. Dr Krishnaswamy, chief medical officer, Masonic Medical Center For Children, said: Children must not use iPads for a long time, which can affect eyesight, and besides that their time with any such device must be never go unsupervised.
“It should be used only in the company of parents or some responsible adult member of the family.”
Dr D Srinivasan, psychiatrist, Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital said, “If the device is restricted to purely academic purposes, then there is no harm.”
But nothing should come at the expense of communication with real people and interpersonal skills in classrooms or at homes, he said.
Perhaps, we can muse over former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ confession that he was a low-tech father. “Before we thrust such inventions into the hands of children as young as seven or eight, we must think,” he said.
In a New York Times article, tech journalist Nick Bilton revealed that Jobs had serious reservations about allowing his own children to spend too much time staring at electronic devices.
Jobs, who died in 2011, replied to a question whether his own kids loved Apple’s iPad, Jobs replied: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”