Learning without computers

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Corpus Corpus 1Learning without computers

Séries générales • LV2


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Polynésie française • Septembre 2014

Séries générales • LV2

  TEXT 1  The private school in the Silicon Valley where tech honchos1 send their kids so they don’t use computers

When children at an exclusive Silicon Valley school mention apples they are usually talking about lunch. And they are much more likely to doodle2 than google. For although some of the country’s top executives from Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett Packard send their children to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, there is not a computer to be found in the classrooms. Teachers don’t even like their students to go online at home. […] The school situated in Los Altos, California, in the middle of the nation’s hi-tech hotbed, relies on good, old-fashioned pencils, pen and paper, painting and knitting needles to educate younger pupils. It is one of about 160 Waldorf schools in America that encourages children to focus on physical activity and creative tasks in the real world rather than a virtual one. While most principals are scrambling to find the cash for more computers, these schools are getting rid of them altogether. Rather than expand the minds of young children, advocates of the Waldorf syllabus believe computers can inhibit attention spans and human interaction. […] According to the New York Times, the preference among some of the “digerati” for their children to go back to basics has prompted a debate over the role of computers in the classroom. “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” Google executive Alan Eagle, 50, told the Times. Mr Eagle’s children, Andie and William, attend the Waldorf elementary and middle schools in Los Altos, where three-quarters of the pupils have parents with connections to the hi-tech industry. Rather than routers and wireless connections, the nine-classroom school boasts chalk blackboards and book shelves full of encyclopedias, an anathema in most schools these days. It’s only when children reach eighth grade when teachers allow the limited use of gadgets. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous,” added Mr Eagle. Although he uses an iPad and a smartphone, Mr Eagle said his fifth grade daughter doesn’t know how to use Google and his eighth grade son is just learning his way around the search engine. He insisted to the Times that he sees no contradiction in his views. “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17,” he said. […] Fifth grade pupils practice3 knitting socks to help their math and problem − solving skills, second graders play catch with bean bags while repeating verses after their teacher. They’re not synchronizing their mail boxes and Facebooks − they are synchronizing their brains with their bodies. One teacher cuts up cake and apples to help her pupils with fractions they could do in seconds on calculators with a lot less mess. The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America insists the philosophy works. It cites statistics showing that 94% of students graduating from Waldorf highschools between 1994 and 2004 attended college, with many heading to prestigious universities. However, Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the national School Boards Association, told the Times that computers were essential. “If schools have access to the tools and can afford them, but are not using the tools, they are cheating our children,” she said. Mr Eagle insists there’s no rush for their children to start brushing up on their keyboard prowess. “It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” he said.

David Gardner, dailymail.co.uk, 24 October 2011.

1. honchos: important people.

2. doodle: drawing vs google, typing.

3. practice (US): practise (GB).

  TEXT 2  How good software makes us stupid

In his book, [The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains] Mr Carr cites an article […] written by technology commentator Bill Thompson. The article described a simple experiment where a puzzle needed to be solved using a computer program. One half of participants were given a “good” program – it gave hints, was intuitive and generally helped the user to their goal. The other half took on the same puzzle, but with software which offered little to make the task easier. “The people who had the weakest software, who had to struggle with the problem, learned much more than the people with the most helpful software,” Mr Carr explained. “Months later − the people who had the unhelpful software actually could remember how to do the puzzle, and the people with the helpful software couldn’t.” Mr Carr says that this simple experiment could suggest that as computer software becomes easier to use, making complicated tasks easier, we risk losing the ability to properly learn something − in effect “short-circuiting” the brain. “When you think about how we’re coming to depend on software for all sorts of intellectual chores1, for finding information, for socialising − you need to start worrying that it’s not giving us, as individuals, enough room to act for ourselves.”

Dave Lee, BBC World Service, 12 September, 2010.

1. chore: unpleasant work.


Text 1

1 Choose the correct ending to the following sentence.

The text is about computer specialists who…

1. want their children to learn about technology in school.

2. want their children to be taught with as little technology as possible.

3. want their children to get used to computers as early as possible.

2 How much do you know about Alan Eagle

1. age:

2. job:

3. family:

4. place of residence:

5. children’s school:

3 True or false Justify your answers with quotations from the text.

1. All Waldorf schools are equipped with at least one computer in their classrooms.

2. The Waldorf School of the Peninsula uses traditional teaching techniques.

3. The Waldorf schools’ attitude towards computers illustrates a general trend in US schools today.

4. People who defend Waldorf schools consider computers will slow their children’s learning process.

5.  Not everyone agrees with the approach used in Waldorf schools.

4 Choose two adjectives to complete the sentence below and justify your answer with a quotation.

Waldorf schools tend to concentrate on tasks which are…

sedentary – digital – imaginative – active – technological

Text 2

5 Choose the best words from the list to complete the following summary.

Not all the words are suitable. Copy the summary on your paper.

task / learning / goal / experiment / hints / participants / brain /
software / information / computer program / interview / puzzle

The article is about an .................. in which .................. had to find a solution to a .................. .

They had to use a .................. to perform a .................. . The conclusion was that sophisticated .................. can diminish ................... ability.

Both texts

6 What do the two documents have in common [type of document, content]

Seul(e)s les candidat(e)s des séries L et L option LVA traiteront la question 7.

7 “The people who had to […] struggle with the problem learned much more” (text 2 line 8-9). Find examples in text 1 of how students have to make an effort to learn.

Seul(e)s les candidat(e)s de série L option LVA traiteront la question 8.

8 Do you think the attitude of people like Alan Eagle is contradictory Justify your point of view in your own words.

EXPReSSION  10 points

> Choisir l’un des deux sujets.

Les candidat(e)s des séries ES, S et L traiteront le sujet choisi en 250 mots (+/− 10%).

Les candidat(e)s de la série L option LVA traiteront le sujet choisi en 350 mots (+/− 10%).

1 Two parents have decided to send their son or daughter to a Waldorf school. Set the scene and write their conversation.

2 How do you picture the future of school education What difference(s) will new technology make

Les clés du sujet

Texte 1


David Gardner est un journaliste britannique qui écrit épisodiquement pour le Daily Mail, un tabloïd fondé en 1896, et pour sa version électronique, Mail Online.

Pour en savoir plus : www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html

Résumé du texte

Aux États-Unis, dans la Silicon Valley, haut-lieu des nouvelles technologies, les cadres des industries informatiques préfèrent, étonnamment, inscrire leurs enfants dans une école d’où les ordinateurs sont bannis, au profit des traditionnels crayons et craies. Le retour aux anciennes méthodes fonctionne, en témoignent les résultats d’accès à l’enseignement supérieur. On peut, cependant, déplorer que l’usage des ordinateurs ne soit pas favorisé à l’heure où ceux-ci semblent indispensables.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Exclusive, l. 1 (sélect)  executives, l. 4 (les cadres)  hotbed, l. 8 (foyer)  knitting needles, l. 10 (des aiguilles à tricoter)  scramble, l. 13 (faire des pieds et des mains)  to get rid of, l. 14 (se débarrasser de)  the syllabus, l. 16 (le programme)  attention span, l. 16 (capacité d’attention)  to boast, l. 26 (s’enorgueillir)  the search engine, l. 33 (le moteur de recherche)  artsy, l. 35 (qui se donne un genre d’artiste)  rated R, l. 35 (interdit aux moins de 18 ans)

Texte 2


Dave Lee est journaliste spécialisé dans les technologies pour la BBC World Service.

Pour en savoir plus : https://davelee.me/

Résumé du texte

Le journaliste raconte une expérience menée sur un groupe témoin devant résoudre un casse-tête. La moitié des témoins dispose d’un ordinateur les aidant avec des indices, l’autre utilise un ordinateur ne les aidant pratiquement pas. Résultat : ceux qui n’avaient pas été aidés avaient davantage appris et étaient capables de résoudre à nouveau le casse-tête plusieurs mois après, contrairement à ceux qui avaient reçu de l’aide.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Hints, l. 5 (des indices)  software, l. 7 (des logiciels)  weak, l. 8 (faible).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes remettent en question l’intérêt des ordinateurs dans le cadre de l’apprentissage. Le premier évoque une école qui travaille sans et obtient d’excellents résultats, l’autre relate une expérience scientifique concluant que le processus d’apprentissage et de mémorisation est bien meilleur lorsqu’il n’y a pas d’apport d’aide par l’ordinateur.

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Dans le dialogue entre les deux parents, il peut être plus intéressant que l’un soit plus motivé que l’autre pour mettre son enfant à Waldorf, afin de favoriser l’échange d’idées. Les principaux arguments sont donnés dans le texte : on apprend mieux sans outil technologique, l’école Waldorf a d’excellents résultats… L’autre parent, peut-être plus réticent, pourra exprimer ses craintes de voir son enfant « déconnecté », voire exclu, du monde actuel et indiquer que l’ordinateur permet un autre apprentissage, basé plus sur l’utilisation des connaissances que leur accumulation.

Vocabulaire utile

Out of touch with (déconnecté de)  to feel left out (se sentir déconnecté, exclu) to attend school (aller à l’école) reluctant (réticent) to enrol ((s’) inscrire)  knowledge (les connaissances).

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Le mouvement actuel, illustré par le texte sur les États-Unis, va vers un accroissement de l’équipement informatique dans les salles de classe, avec dans certains endroits des ordinateurs portables remplaçant cahiers et manuels… Cette tendance se propage également en France, on voit naître dans les universités des programmes d’enseignement à distance ne nécessitant de se déplacer que pour les examens. L’avenir nous dirige-t-il vers un enseignement à domicile, avec une connexion Internet  Et les risques que cela engendre pour les relations humaines  Nombreux sont ceux qui pensent que l’ordinateur ne remplacera jamais l’enseignant, même s’il est pour lui un outil précieux.

Vocabulaire utile

Home school (école à domicile)  home schooled (scolarisé à domicile)  distance learning (enseignement à distance)  digital (numérique)  CAT (Computer Aided Teaching = Enseignement assisté par ordinateur).




Text 1

1 The right answer is 2. .

2 1. He is 50.

2. He is a Google executive.

3. He has two children, Andie and William.


5th grade et 8th grade correspondent respectivement au CM2 et à la 4e.

4. He lives near Los Altos, in Silicon Valley, California.

5. His children attend the Waldorf elementary and middle schools in Los Altos.

3 1. “there is not a computer to be found in the classroom” (l. 5-6)

2. “… relies on good, old-fashioned pencils, pen and paper, painting and knitting needles” (l. 9-10) / “the nine-classroom school boasts chalk blackboards and book shelves full of encyclopedias” (l. 25-27) / “Fifth grade pupils practice knitting socks to help their math and problem-solving skills, second graders play catch with bean bags…” (l. 36-38)

3. “While most principals are scrambling to find the cash for more computers…” (l. 13-14) / “Rather than routers and wireless connections…” (l. 25)

4. “Advocates of the Waldorf syllabus believe computers can inhibit attention spans and human interaction” (l. 15-17)

5. “Ann Flynn (…) told the Times that computers were essential” (l. 46-48) / “they are cheating our children” (l. 50)

4 Waldorf schools tend to concentrate on tasks which are:

  • imaginative: “creative tasks” (l. 12)
  • active: “Fifth grade pupils practice knitting socks to help their math and problem-solving skills, second graders play catch with bean bags…” (l. 36−38)
Text 2

5 The article is about an in which had to find a solution to a . They had to use a to perform a . The conclusion was that sophisticated can diminish ability.

Both texts

6 Both texts are articles taken from the press, and deal with the fact that computers are not necessary to learn – on the contrary.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s des séries L et L option LVA.

7 Like in the second text, the first text proves that without a computer, ­learners have to struggle more: for instance, the fact that they learn fractions through cutting apples is more difficult, and more rewarding, than through the use of calculators (l. 42).

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L option LVA.

8 On the one hand, Eagle’s attitude may seem paradoxical, as he works in the technological field, and seems to dismiss computers as an important part of childhood and learning. But on the other hand, we can say that he knows what he is talking about all the better, as he is fully aware of the potential consequences of a computer-loaded environment on human interaction.


1 Guidelines

“Darling, I think , the Waldorf school. I’ve been talking about it with my colleagues at Google, and they expressed their satisfaction at the way children are taught there.”

“Did they What’s so different about it ”

“Well, , they use more traditional methods, like chalk and exercise-books, you know…”

“Are you talking about 19th-century methods You must be kidding! No way! , and you know better than anyone else how important technology is nowadays! He’d feel totally lost and left out if…”

“Come on,” he interrupted, “Johnny doesn’t need to be online at three! He can learn all that later. In fact, he has plenty of time… I’ve read a study that said that using computers in the process of learning leads to more troubles than it seems. Actually, or to learn.”

“Maybe we can try next year, and decide if we continue or not at the end of the year.”