Is Our Children Robo-Learning?

Is Our Children Robo-Learning?
Yesterday, Mike admirably made a pledge to blog once per day here on the Launch Pad. I hope that you all will keep him to that pledge, and maybe even help him out a little bit. Speaking as a sometimes blogger, I'll let you know that we really appreciate it when you chime in with comments, or when you pass along links to the blog or the post via Twitter, email, Facebook, or anything else. It really helps provide some extra psychological energy to make that next post. Also, suggestions and requests about what you'd like to read are really helpful!

I won't even claim to be able to match Mike's blogging prowess, but I'm going to do my part to make sure I chip in and add to the dialog as best I can.

Today, I noticed that Eliot Spitzer--yes, that Eliot Spitzer--has some interesting comments in his new blog over at Slate. The key graf from a piece about needing key investment in the USA's future:
In education—just as much a part of our infrastructure as bridges and roads—here is a small investment that is one of my favorites: Provide funding for robotics teams at every school. If you ever want to see intellectual competition in the arena that matters today—technological wizardry—visit the robotics competitions that now exist in some schools. Make these competitions as universal as football. Make it cool to design the next cutting-edge video game or iPod.

That paragraph seems to be the one getting the most mileage in terms of follow-on commentary and linkage from other blogs of note, and I couldn't be more thrilled. After all, it's a great idea, I think.

I'm big on robotics competitions, for obvious reasons--after all, I'm running what is perhaps the biggest robotics competition of all time. I'm also a big fan of other competitions like BotBall (which we helped sponsor last year) and FIRST (for which we helped inspire this year's theme). I think they have a wonderful impact on students and, as such, are a superb investment in our future.

One naysayer disagrees:
"Technological wizardry" is well and good, but at many schools, kids would just like some new books, functioning heating and air conditioning systems, and qualified teachers. A stimulus plan should address our needs before it tackles our fantasies. Not that I'd really expect Eliot Spitzer to keep his fantasies in perspective...

I can't really take issue with the cheapshot at the end--hard to resist when discussing Spitzer--but I do take issue with the sentiment. Now, I'm all in favor of new books and functioning climate control for our students, but let's not set up straw men here. Even in these tight economic times, it is not accurate to portray those as the only two choices--fund basic short term educational needs versus fund longer term educational investments!

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