When the students of St. Catherine's High School's new middle school program arrive next year, they'll be sporting shiny new iPads instead of textbooks, giving students plenty of games to play while they should be learning, until they get stolen.
It's a revolutionary idea, I suppose, but a very bad revolutionary idea.
St Catherine's High School in Racine, Wisconsin kicks off its new middle school program next year, inviting sixth and seventh graders into a facility that's traditionally been for eighth through twelfth grade students. Some would consider these new students privileged. Others would consider them targets.
To make things easier for the new attendees, St. Catherine's is doing away with weighty, game-less textbooks, and requiring all new students to pay a $400 technology fee to acquire an Apple iPad.
So not only does St. Catherine's have a crop of fresh, young students entering a school filled with older children, they are making sure everyone knows these younger, weaker kids will be carrying around $500 worth of Apple technology.
Like I said, targets.
The idea of getting rid of heavy textbooks in favor of technology is a very noble and forward-thinking one. The iPad can read electronic books, after all, and also has access to many of the tools children would normally have to pay big money for, like graphing calculators.
Unless there is some sort of plan in place to regulate the apps loaded on to each device, say a school-wide iTunes account, then there's no way the school is keeping these kids from playing Plants Vs. Zombies all day long. Hell, I had one computer class in high school that gave me 45 minutes with an Apple IIe, and I still spent the entire time playing a hacked copy of Conan.
"We think it's time to do something to take advantage of technology," (School President Christopher) Olley said. "This is a small step for this age group."
Sir, all steps are small steps for sixth and seventh graders.
While the sixth and seventh graders will pilot the program next year, the rest of the school's students will be carrying iPads by the 2012-2013 school year. Hopefully this won't generate any ire between the older students and the newer ones.