Now that I'm ready to be rejected by the education system, I've been doing a lot of research. If you want to see the most fantastic video on the OLPC in Rwanda, then click here. It is such a magnificent thing to save young brains!
But, I've got to ask myself, why can't these things work here? In North America and the 'developed' world. Why is our education system so stuck? So, I had a nice conversation with a local elementary teacher.
First off, these people work very very hard, and feel totally besieged! These teachers right now are in a big union fight with the government. The central Soviet control system keeps shoveling out curriculum changes, which they expect the teachers to deal with. Because of a year-end gov't deadline, they suddenly told my teacher friend to buy several thousand dollars worth of non-fiction books in 2 days, for grades 7 and 8! This is all psychological torture, just like with me and the old company.
That said, these teachers have developed a prison guard mentality. They have retreated into 'work to rule', and view the kids as a hostile force. They regard computers as being a detriment to education, since they generally have just a couple of broken PC's in the library, which the kids are always breaking again and again.
The private schools are making some advances to 'paperless' classes, since the kids are heavily filtered by wealth. I think this trend of 'hopelessness' also penetrates into the unionized universities, and we won't expect to see any major changes there.
So, will the developing countries leap-frog us? It will be interesting.