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January 28, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-28

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f

OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

'Thursday, January 28, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 97

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI,48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

HAS TODAYS TI&Rr
JbB MARKET C.RE:AUP SfWENT5
WHO ARE NARROW-MINPeJ AND
6 53 INFORMED Ai ar TNB ARTS
"lMA TE{F.lR co-WrE:'RFAIM of
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REPOWMIZ. R L-65 THIS
REPORT FROM
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HOLD ON A SEZONP.
IS THIS A 006sm 14 vwr miaw
PPEAR ON 7w LAW soA"s?
WC LIAWIZA Silm-IT MAIL.
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By Robert Lence
W-LL, TH" rm
Nor iNTM STE'.

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Not so f
PEED HAS NEVER been one of the
J bureaucratic Michigan Student
Assembly's fortes. In dealing with the
sensitive subject of defense-sponsored
research on campus, however, MSA
ny be acting with inappropriate
haste.
Bret Eynon, an investigator hired by
1WSA to look into defense-sponsored
research at the University, presented
the assembly with a preliminary
report on the controversial research.
Eynon's report established links
between current University low-level
research and such high-level weapons
as air-to-air missiles and the "stealth"
b6niber. According to the report, this
research violates "in spirit" the
Regents Guidelines on Classified
Htearch, which prohibit any research
d1ctly applicable to the destruction-
ofhuman life. r
3ut Eynon's conclusions were in-
c plete. The MSA investigator ad-
mited, "much more work remains to
1 done before a complete, entirely ac-
,urate picture can be assembled."
: Eynon's admission was apt.
although he did a thorough job of
dthering the available information
aout University research, he failed to
ecntact the faculty members involved
16 the scrutinized research, or ad-
ininistrators responsible for reviewing

ast, MSA

the research. Thus Eynon's con-
clusions were as premature and in-
complete as his report.
Clearly this defense-research deser-
ves a closer look. Eynon has pointed
out many of the potential problems
with Pentagon-sponsored research,
but MSA should be careful not to make
conclusions based on this prelimiinary
investigation.
The University research does have a
potential destructive application, as
evidenced by the military sponsorship.
The military is not notoriously philan-
thropic with its research investment
and sponsors only what it may be able
to use. But the research ,lso has ob-
vious non-military application which
must also be considered.
Despite the inadequacies of the
Eynon report, MSA is ,working in the
right direction. The assembly's in-
vestigation should continue, however,
until it has a balanced and full report.
This document would serve as a
valuable tool for the faculty and
student Research Policies Committee,
which meets Feb. 1 to review Univer-
sity research guidelines.
Useful revisions and clarification
can be made of the University defense
research guidelines, but not' until all
sides of the issue have been thoroughly
explored.

Classro om
.Not always

computers:
inhuman_

Gambling on education

"NTOVEL AND imaginative is what
University officials called Gov.
rMilliken's new budget deferral plan.
Putting off trouble until next year is
what they should have called it.
The g overnor introduced a plan in
-his State of the State address Monday
that calls for deferring payment of
$33.9 million of state higher education
raid until next year. Instead of paying
that amount to state colleges and
universities this summer, Lansing will
dIelay payment until the 1983 fiscal
year. Milliken is betting that
Michigan's economy will improve
enough by 1983 so that the state gover-
nment can finance the $33.9 million
owed to higher education.
0 Milliken is taking a big gamble.
:There is little chance the state will be
,able to meet this $33.9 million payment
in 1983. Car sales are still declining,
,while little 'is being accomplished at
the UAW talks to increase sales. There
as no new productivity. Milliken's
"'economic recovery" program has
half stalled in the state legislature, and
has no chance of being effective by
1983.
g This economic gloom means even
,worse times for the University. To
,handle the proposed payment deferral,
.he University will have to borrow fun-
from other University units. This
'4r

process will slowly use any reserve
funds the University had saved for
future improvements or future
problems. When the state cannot pay
the money it promised in 1983, the
University will, have to handle the past
deficit, reallocate the borrowed funds,
and cope with any other new crisis that
may arise. These crises have been
arising at a furious pace this year-two
executive order budget reductions in,
two months-and there is no sign that
this pace will abate.
This situation would mean drastic
cuts in University academic units in
1983. If it is forced to diminish its own
internal funds, the University would
put itself in an extraordinary bind. Un-
doubtedly, this will cause the pace of
the administration's retrenchment
program to quicken-damaging the
University's stature in the process.
If the state-must reduce its aid to
higher education this year, it should be.
done immediately. Deferring paymen-
ts should only be done when it is cer-
tain that more money will be available
at a later date. No one is certain of this
now. Gambling with the future of
higher education in the state of
Michigan is too dangerous a
proposition for any politician to con-
sider.

For many American adults, the growing
use of computers in schools conjures images
of little Johnny becoming an android-like but-
ton pusher, learning from machines instead'
of from human beings.
In the eyes of growing number of
teachers, however, that view is far off the
mark. Instead, they say, computers have the
potential to recreate the lively atmosphere of
the legendary one-room schoolhouse - a lear-.
ning place where the classroom emphasis is'
on meeting individual student needs and en-
couraging wide interaction.
But the alternate scenario-an educational
system made less human and less effective by
computers-is equally plausible. And the
final outcome of computerized education
rests heavily upon the way it is being im-
plemented today.
AT RALPH HAWLEY Elementary School
in Emeryville, California, students hardly sit
zombie-like in front of their terminals in the
school's computer center. Hands shoot up as
children call the teacher's aide over to see
their progress,*laughter punctuates the air.
One fourth-grade girl bounces in her chair ex-
claiming, "I did it! I did It!"
Learning to use the machines can be impor-
tant to the overall sense of student
achievemient, especially when it is reinforced,
by human praise, says Donna Hetrick, who
manages the computer center at Hawley.
"One of our boys in special education, who
was withdrawn and shy, has really come out
of himself because of his success frith the
computer," she says. "After working with
special math programs, he was the only one
to get 100 on a test, and he was working on the
same level as the others in his class," Hetrick
says. "He wouldn't rest until he got me over
to see the 100 percent on his screen-he was
really proud of that."
IN FACT, say proponents, computers may
require even more student interaction in the
classroom rather than less because of the
need to impart operating skills. Often, other
students will fill in the "training" gap if an
adult teacher is unavailable.
Mark Richter, the computer specialist at
Anna Yates Elementary, also in Emeryville,
says his students often yell out their scores to'
one another or show others how to work the
machines. And Pat Geel, a computer science
teacher at Eastridge High School in
Kankakee, Illinois, adds that other teachers
in the elementary grades there actually feel
more comfortable with computer programs
written by her students.
"My kids take fourth- and fifth-graders in
small groups and demonstrate how the
programs worked," Geel explains. "They'd
say 'I wrote this program; would you like to
tryit?'
SUCH INTERACTIONS around computers
evoke visions of pristine past rather than an
Orwellian future for Edward Willett, an
economics and social science professor at
Houghton College in New York. As co-author
of "Modernizing the Little Red Schoolhouse,"

By Mary Blakeman
Willett set forth the notion that American
education could do a better job for less money
by using computers and returning to the for-
mat of the small "common school."
"Kids learn an amazing amount from each
- other, and in the American common school
the older, more advanced children helped the
younger ones. The teacher would no longer
have to be omniscient-they never were
anyway."
Moreover, he adds, individual attention
made possible by computer can equalize
cultural background factors which account
for the greatest differences in student per-
formance: "If you can individualize
education, you can take that cultural
background into account."
DEBRA DAWSON, a first-grade teacher in
San Jose, California, says she has found these
concepts convincing in practice-to her sur-
prise. After attending her first teacher-
computer conference this fall, she admitted to
being leery of the machines. "But I
discovered that I could use them as a teacher,
particularly with one of my students who is a
little slower than the others," she says.
"Before, I would have had to put him on a
lower priority, but with the machine, he could
be learning while I could go and teach the
other 30."
Computers also can provide a variety of
very new educational relationships in the
classroom, observes Kay Gilliland, a teacher
in Emeryville for 18 years who played a key
part in securing computers for her school
district. "There are some kids who can't deal
with interpersonal relationships between the
teacher and the student or between the
student and the student, and they can deal
with the machine," she says. "Some kids like
the reaction between two students and the
machine, or one-on-one with the machine.
There are lots of ways to interact."
"Perhaps the major, advantage of com-
puters is that they make learning an active
process where students play a constant
thinking role," says Alfred Bork, director of
the Educational Technology Center at the
University of California, Irvine. "The ex-
perience is similar to a conversation between
two people. This contrasts with large lecture
classes where many students struggle to take
notes. In a lecture, many students rarely par-
ticipate actively in the learning process."
IN ADDITION, Gilliland sees computers
humanizing education by assuming some of
the record-keeping drudgery that loads.
teachers down and, in her words, "wastes the
creative teacher's time."
When, the 1,860-student Falmouth High.
School on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, started
using a computer to keep track of daily atten-
dance, truancy and class-cutting dropped.
Providing quick, accurate attendance print-
outs, the computer records enabled parents
and faculty to recognize and head off

problems by giving personal attention to
students who skipped school. 1
The potential of computers in education is:.
directly tied to the programs-or "sof-
tware"-which run the machines, however.
One of the better programs, "Oregon Trail,"
has students in fourth- or fifth-grade classes
divide into small groups of "families" for an
imagiriary journey. They are credited with a
certain amount of money for the trip and,
through an historiclly accurate computer
simulation, face the same kind of perils which
real-life pioneers experienced. Often, studen-
ts do not make it across the country on the fir-
st trip, but in class discussions following each
attempt, they learn from the mistakes of
others. Through this kind of integrat'ed ap-
proach to learning, the students practice
math, absorb history and geography, and
evelop group decision-making skills.
UNFORTUNATELY, Oregan Trail is an
exception to the current rule. "Frankly, I'm a'
little appalled at how I see computers being
used," says Marilyn Buxton, a mother and
teacher who develops educational computer
programs for a small Illinois company.
"We're still finding computers used for drill
and practice or as electronic workbooks.
Those are some ways to use them, but it's ex-
pensive and non-productive-like using an 18-
wheeler to get:a load of bread home from the
market."
ftdeed, economic considerations could
make-or break-the potential of computers
in the classroom. Prof. Christopher Dede of
the University of -Houston, for example
worries about the possible effects of a totally
standardized computer curriculum made
necessary by the high cost of developing sof-
tware.
"For the first time, we're talking about a
major centralization of education with a
national curriculum," he says. "There could
be tremendous problems, because if there is a
mistake it would be repeated acros tlie coun-
try. And there is also the problem of updating
and biases."
"It could easily happen that computers will
lead to worse education than we have now,"
admits Alfred Bork. "But that doesn't have to
happen. The next five to 10 years are the
critical period in determining if it will be wor-
se or better."
Thus, whether schools head toward a cold,
impersonal future or the warmth of the one
room school depends on decisions being made
now. "We're like ants climbing up a tree, with
many branches, many alternatives," says
Dede. "As we do up the tree, every time we
make a decision we cut out one branch."
"Our whole society needs to be in the mid -
dIe ground about computers," he adds. "But
people usually 'go through stages where they
fear them first, then worship them. Then,,
finally, they become partners."
Blakeman wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

I

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
The facts on MSA and ft azings

y;

tit

To the Daily:
On January 22, 1982, The
Michigan Daily criticized the
Michigan Student Assembly for
,their failure to act promptly on
the proposed University Hazing
Policy. Unfortunately, the main
content of the editorial inac-
curately reflected recent
decisions and actions taken by
MSA on this issue. To help the
reader know the real story, a
review of the facts would seem
appropriate.
Fact: The so-called "MSA two
month postponement to pass
hazing guidelines", was actually
nne mnnth_ which incluided the

and winter semesters.
Fact: The hazing proposal that
reached MSA in December failed,
to include sanctions for violators
of the policy.
Fact: MSA formed a Hazing
Policy %Committee to create the
necessary sanctions needed to
strengthen an otherwise weak
policy.
Fact: MSA has been the
initiator in formulating a
stronger University Hazing
Policy by demanding that the
Univesity, sororities, and frater-
nities impose proper sanctions
dealing with hazing.
T ,,ndprawfnr that ~i sdffeit

plexities that surround an effec-
tive student government. My only
hope is that in its future en-
deavors to cover MSA business,
the Daily will obtain the facts
before writing inaccurate infor-
mation. Hopefully, my letter
will succeed in helping readers to

understand the facts concerning
MSA's actions on the University
Hazing Policy.
-Kathy Hartrick,
Michigan Student
Assembly
January 27

4

Outraged at Robert Law

44S

To the Daily:
I am outraged to read about the
behavior of Robert Law, an aide
to Governor Milliken.
The Governor's high-
technology task force, however it
is. nnnafi iAMaA .A,.nti f atta n a

research into the activities of the
task force. Perhaps Law does not
agree that a member of the
public should examine public
issues. It is apparent Law does
not agree with the conclusions

Cl

V L4~1~ L{~IxIX~IU b.

I

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