As you might know by now, I have a bit of a fascination with information authenticity these days, thanks to the internet (and Tumblr). So after reading velvetant’s funny “slate vs. paper” post which has quickly racked 14k of notes so far, I did a search and came across this Powerpoint presentation by Dr. Jim Jeffery, Dean of the School of Education at Andrews University, that contained the following slides (titles moved to the front). Note the second item:
- Teacher’s Conference 1703:
Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend on their slates which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write!
- Principal’s Association 1815:
Students today depend on paper too much. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?
- National Association of Teachers 1907:
Students today depend too much upon ink. They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.
- The Rural American Teacher 1928:
Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.
- PTA Gazette 1941:
Students today depend on these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib. We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world which is not so extravagant.
- Federal Teachers 1950:
Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.
- High School Math Teacher 1980:
You can’t use those calculators on the test. If I let you do that, you wouldn’t ever learn how to use the tables in the back of the book and use interpolation to figure out your trig ratios.
- High School Math Teacher 1989:
We can’t let them use calculators in middle school. If we do, they’ll forget how to do long division or how to multiply three digit numbers by three digit numbers. What will they do when they don’t have access to a calculator?
- High School Math Teacher 1993:
Why are you writing a grant for a classroom set of graphing calculators? We’ll never be allowed to use them and – even if we can – that’s only one class, and parents in other classes will never buy them for their students.
- District Employee 1995:
Why would you ever want the Internet for student use? It’s just the latest fad – have them use the library.
- District Employee 1995:
You don’t need a web page . Who’s ever going to look at it?
- Teacher on a District Committee 1996:
Teachers will never use email.
- Member of School Accountability Committee 1999:
What can you do with an LCD Projector that you can’t do with an overhead projector?
- Member of Laptop Committee 2000:
Why are we talking about students having laptops in high school? I don’t think most parents will even give their kids their old computer, much less buy them a new one.
- Teacher 2001:
Why would I want to put my grades on the web? Who’s going to look at them?
Interestingly enough, after I did a search for the funny first quote, it led to this page on quoteinvestigator.com which refers to it as apocryphal and claims that the “quotes were constructed with a humorous intent.”
Students Today Can’t Prepare Bark to Calculate Their Problems
Several of the quotes begin with the phrase “Students today”. This is a stylistic technique that provides a parallel structure which emphasizes the continuity of the series. It also highlights the changes of each historical era. QI believes that it is unlikely that real quotations would conform to this convenient pattern.
In addition, QI has searched several massive full-text databases for evidence of these words before 1978, and QI was unable to locate any previous citations in the time periods indicated.
The author name listed after these quotes in 1978 was Gene Zirkel of Nassau Community College who was an editor of the MATYC journal. He taught and wrote extensively about mathematics and computers. QI believes that Zirkel should probably be credited with the creation of these quotes. QI also thinks there was no intention to deceive. The piece was supposed to reflect technological and attitudinal changes with a clever satirical edge.
Many periodicals and books have treated the quotes as genuine.
Fascinating stuff, no? It kind of makes me wonder about historical text in general.