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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #111     A Publication of The Nature Institute    September 12, 2000
              Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
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    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood
       Excerpts from a new publication of decisive importance
    Children and Computers: A Call for Action
       Position statement of the Alliance for Childhood
    Announcements and Resources
       Alliance for Childhood -- International Conference
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    "Mass delusion" is about the only term I know that is adequate to describe
    our society's compulsion to sink untold billions of dollars into the
    computerization of education -- against all reason and without any clear
    sense of the supposed educational need being addressed.  Every voice
    raised against the delusion has been swallowed up like a whimper in a
    hurricane.  Until now.
    Finally, I believe, there is beginning to sound a collective voice with
    the force and gravity to counter the delusion.  This morning the Alliance
    for Childhood conducted a high-profile news conference at Washington's
    National Press Club, and released its report:  "Fool's Gold: A Critical
    Look at Computers in Childhood".  Personally, I think this report is the
    most significant publication about computers and children since the
    delusion first seized hold of us.  You'll find some excerpts from it
    The Alliance simultaneously issued a "Call to Action", which we reprint
    here along with a partial list of its initial signers.  The Call concludes
    with seven recommendations, the first of which, restoring some long-absent
    common-sense to the public discussion, urges:
       a refocusing in education, at home and school, on the essentials of a
       healthy childhood: strong bonds with caring adults; time for
       spontaneous, creative play; a curriculum rich in music and the other
       arts; reading books aloud; storytelling and poetry; rhythm and
       movement; cooking, building things, and other handcrafts; and gardening
       and other hands-on experiences of nature and the physical world.
    You will find the full text of Fool's Gold (which is also available
    in printed, nicely bound form) at www.allianceforchildhood.net.  For
    further information send email to info@allianceforchildhood.net or call
    301-513-1777.  You can register your interest or support at the website --
    something I urge you to do.
    For some additional background about the Alliance, see NF #99.
    One final note:  I have never been quite so moved by a press conference as
    I was while listening in to this one.  What struck me so forcefully was
    the quiet conviction and depth of sincerity evident in all the
    presentations -- not exactly what