• September 25, 2021
 Op-Ed: What if We had Listened to the Gizmo Haters?

Op-Ed: What if We had Listened to the Gizmo Haters?

A common practice of those that enjoy criticizing school districts, superintendents, school boards and educational practices in general is to take on topics that they know little or nothing about.

Instructional technology makes a great target of the malinformed because it is a) something that they can kind of relate to because they know how to complain on social media using technology, b) when bought in bulk always seems expensive and c) is an easy target because you can sound informed when you actually are not because not a lot of people are “tech savvy.”

Indeed, it is not uncommon to even hear people bleat out to school boards in our area complaining about the purchase of “gizmos” without any idea what the “gizmos” do or what they are going to be used for.

With that in mind, I thought I would share what others might have said across the decades about the changes in educational technology.Enjoy this collection of probable and actual quotes about changes in all kinds of “gizmos” across the years:

“Students can’t seem to properly prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend on their slates, which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write.“

– Probable Discourse at Teacher’s Conference 1703

“Our students depend too much paper. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t even clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”

-Probable Discussion at Principal’s Association 1815

“Students today depend too much upon ink that they make. They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”

-National Association of Teachers 1907

Students depend upon store bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink, they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”

-The Rural American Teacher 1928

“Students depend on these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib. We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world, which is not so extravagant.”

-PTA Gazette 1941

“Ballpoint pens will surely be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”

-Federal Teachers Meeting 1950

“I don’t see anytime in the future where expensive digital electronic calculators will replace the tried and true, inexpensive slide rulers.”

– High School Trigonometry Teacher 1973


“Calculators on a test? If I let you do that, you wouldn’t ever learn how to use the tables in the back of the book and use interpolation to figure out your trig ratios.”

-Actual High School Math Teacher 1980

“We can’t let them use calculators in middle school. If we do, they’ll forget how to do long division or how to multiply three digit numbers by three digit numbers. What will they do when they don’t have access to a calculator?”

-Actual Middle School Math Teacher 1989

Why are you writing a grant for a classroom set of graphing calculators? We’ll never be allowed to use them and – even if we can – that’s only for one class, and parents in other classes will never buy them for their students.”

-High School Math Teacher 1993

“I quit. All my lessons were written for Apple II computers and they switched my room to Macs over the summer. No one uses Macs. ”

-Actual El Paso Area Computer Science Teacher 1991

“Why does anyone in education need a color monitor? Green screens are fine for the vast majority of work that is being done.”

– Actual El Paso District School Board member – 1993

“All this emphasis on Internet in the classroom is a bunch of bunk. Why would you ever want the Internet for student use? It’s just the latest fad – Let them use the library.”

– Actual District Leader 1995

“We don’t need a school web page. Who is ever going to look at it? Our families in this district can’t afford computers and the Internet. This is a complete waste of time and effort.”

-Many, Many Educators 1999

“Teachers will never use email. Why would they? ”

-Actual District Technology Committee Member 1999

“Why do you want network drops at every teacher’s desk? You’re not thinking about getting a computer for ALL of them, are you?”

-Building Administrator 2000

“If students want computers, they can buy the parts off eBay and make one themselves if they want.” 

Actual El Paso School board member, 2001

“Electronic grade books are a fad. I don’t have to learn how to use them.They will go away.”

– Actual El Paso Area High School Football coach, 2002

“What can you do with an LCD Projector that you can’t do with an overhead projector?”

-Actual Social Studies Teacher 2003

“Why are we talking about students having laptops in high school? Most parents won’t even give their kids their old computer, much less buy them a new one.”

Member of District Technology Committee 2004

“I don’t think we need to have a wireless network in our schools anytime soon.”

-Actual District Technology Director 2004

“No, we will not allow high school students to earn credits with online classes. I don’t care what other systems are doing. We will never allow that here.”

-Associate Superintendent of a N.C. School System 2007

“Why do we continue to purchase all these gizmos? Why can’t we just teach?”

-Actual Teacher Association Representative 2018

I wonder what what would have happened if we had listened to the “gizmo haters?” Would we still be showing our kids how to peel birchbark to hand in classwork on? Have you heard a similar quote? Leave it here and share!


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

Tim Holt


Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

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  • Hilarious!
    Thank you for sharing. I am sharing with some fellow teachers who don’t get it and are always complaining about laptops.

  • Sharing with my Principal.
    He can’t even turn on his computer without asking for help and thinks laptops for kids is a waste of money. Of course he is old.

  • Thanks for sharing! That is how we keep the conversation going!

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