May 4, 2011

‘Woz’ Wants To See Computers Teaching In Schools

Steve Wozniak, known affectionately as "Woz" by tech geeks the world over and cofounder of Apple computers, offers the idea of more computers in school classes to fill several holes in the current state of education, Reuters is reporting.

A lifelong hands-on engineer, who quietly taught elementary school for eight years after leaving Apple in 1987, Wozniak currently serves as chief scientist for start-up Fusion-io, which says its technology speeds up data processing.

Wozniak points out that today's available technology has all the sensors humans have - movement, eyesight and hearing - although they cannot replace human teachers. "We're getting closer to where you can make devices that become a friend and not just a computerized textbook," he told chip engineers at an event in Silicon Valley on Tuesday.

School districts all over are facing large budget gaps. States and school districts are making budget cuts that affect class sizes, curriculum and teachers' salaries. Since public schools are heavily funded by states, they are heavily burdened by cuts.

"Education systems have not adapted to children's needs, with schools adhering to a top-down teaching philosophy. If you had 30 teachers in a class with 30 students, they'd all get individual attention and be moving at their own paces," Wozniak explained. "So I think someday a computer could possibly be a teacher."

Wozniak was key in building the Apple I and Apple II computers that helped revolutionize personal computing. He gained most of his engineering knowledge from his father and from tinkering with computers late into the night in his bedroom.

"School in itself is pretty much a restrictive force on creativity," he said. "When you come to class, you do the exact same pages in the book, the same hours as everyone else in the class. You don't go off in your own little directions. That is not the way of the future," he said. "Lot of kids get lost in our school system."


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