Cliff Stoll once more brings his sense of humour and sound knowledge of both life and computing to the fore. Some complained that Silicon Snakeoil was unfocused and rambling "complaint" about the way technology was going - others saw this as being its biggest strength. High Tech Heretic strikes the killer blow to those complaints - and not just through its solid focus. It challenges you to take a step back from Intel, Microsoft, "E-Learning" and every other company, buzzword or promise, and consider the real picture. Whether you're in the US or the UK (and probably many other places) the books message seems to hold true. We are short-changing our children and their educators. We convince both that computers are the answer - that we will pay for a laptop, but we won't pay for a ruler or a piece of A4 paper.
The book is not pessamistic or depressing - it has plenty of anecodtes, examples and stories - just as Cliff's previous books had this touching and powerful edge. What it does do is paint a picture of a world in 20 years time where we have thousands trained in HTML, and no-one able to wire up a light fitting or service your automobile.
School Governors, Head and regular Teachers and Local Government and Education Department officials should all be required to read this. Anyone else who cares to think about exactly what and how we are teaching children should also absorb its message. Its as near as I think you can get to an antidote to the flash money and weaselease promises of those who sell computers and software to schools. As is said in the book - whats better, a picture of a whale or a dolphin from the Internet, or a small aquarium with some real fish there in the classroom? Its our choice...
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