back to article Opposition to can Aus $1.3bn school laptops program

Australia's general election is in full swing and disputes over tech funding and tech policy continue to intrude on today centre stage. In today's spat, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said he would scrap the government's "wasteful" computers for schools initiative if the centre right Coalition wins. That would mean Year 9 pupils …


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  1. lglethal Silver badge

    When will they learn?

    When will the bloody politicians learn that a laptop is not an educational tool?

    A good teacher, a blackboard, chalk, pens, paper, maybe a projector are educational tools.

    Computers are only educational tools when doing computing related subjects. So why would you buy laptops instead of desktops which are half the price (or less)? And why would you need one for every second child?

    I cant believe i voted this pile of shite government in. The problem with Australian politics now is that the alternative in the forthcoming election is an even worse pile of shite... Its very much a Damned if you do, Damned if you dont situation...

    1. Big-nosed Pengie

      hear, hear

      I never thought I'd agree with anything those pond scum Lieberals say, but Hockey's right. Spend the money on teachers, not on toys. Kids need to learn to read and write and do hard sums.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Free laptops" and national blocking go hand in hand.

    No, of course nobody is going to supervise legions of brats. That's why they need the national blacklist of dentists, er, bad stuff, for. And it needs to be secret because, well, if the kids can't be trusted, then certainly their parents can't be. Obvious, no?

    *takes medicine*

    Anyway, while it might not be a bad idea to teach kids to touch-type, "computer education" more often than not strands itself at "teaching" to click buttons in specific "industry standard" applications that will be obsolete before the kids get out of school. Quick "results" but no lasting benefit. I'd posit the latter is what education should be about.

    And since you can equally well teach about computing with the old books and pen and paper, except for practicals where the kids can get frustrated and turn to doom, or halo, or whatever the latest is these days, there's no real need to try and get everyone his own personal laptop. It's convenient as long as the gear hasn't turned obsolete yet, yes, and a feel-good handout for the plebs, certainly, but not strictly necessairy.

    Focus on instilling skills in the kids themselves instead of trying to make them proficient click-a-button automatons. Discourse, critical thinking, the sort of thing that people are best at and we haven't been able to small-script-ise in the last fifty years despite dilligent trying. Even maths, though computers are better at calculation than we'll ever be; the ability to quickly gauge a problem for likely profitable approaches like an engineer with a slide rule is arguably more useful than getting a ten digits precise answer and having no clue what to do with it.

    But you can't expect a kid-hugging bad-people-denouncer do-gooder to understand that.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Aha your flawed arguement.

    "Focus on instilling skills in the kids themselves instead of trying to make them proficient click-a-button automatons."

    This is EXACTLY what .gov's want. A bunch of bland, conformist robots.

    Face it.

    1950,60,70,80's students. If you didn't like something you had a good old protest, with the odd pitched battle and riot thrown in.

    Now they set up a fucking facebook page. Ooohh way to change the world kids!

    Flame, because sometimes that's what it takes.

    1. mmiied


      and exactley what did all thouse protests change

      about as much as the facebook page

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        Seems to me all those riots and protests changed quite a few things. 50s, 60s and 70s? IIRC these were the decades in which racial segregation finally died. These were the decades in which women finally and rightfully claimed their status as equals in virtually every important way. It was when the power of public outcry actually managed to overcome the stubbornness of government and force them to abandon a war they shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place.

        (Seriously, when will people learn that you can’t win a war where your opponents have gotten /good/ at asymmetrical warfare? Nobody ever seems to learn anything from the continual failed attempts to learn Russia, and they certainly never apply those lessons to the invasion of other territories.)

        The protests and riots and what have you of those decades also gave rise to unions, workers collectives (in which a collective of workers own the business) and many other alternate forms of production. (Some of which were more successful than others.) More than anything it gave the citizens of western world the feeling that they had real power over their governments: something that today you can only really find in France.

        Maybe the populace didn’t achieve every goal they set out to, but they did achieve some very significant victories. Far more than the pathetically terrified, self-absorbed, mewling, huddled masses that infest the globe today. We have become a world populated by entire societies that simply accept that “that’s the way things are” and believe that enacting change is simply “someone else’s job.”

        I have a lot of respect for my parent’s generation who were willing to stand up to “the man” and have a good protest or riot. They stood up for what they believed in, even if that meant being beaten, shot, jailed or worse. Today’s pathetic excuses for “free” people love to complain about the world, but wouldn’t get up and do something about it if it meant they had to miss the next “Survivor.” For my generation, as regards their ability to understand what has been sacrificed to earn them the freedom they so take for granted, I have nothing but contempt.

      2. c0rruptd


        I'm going to have to agree with mmiied here. As far as I can tell, young people here are so cynical in relation to our political system that I am beginning to hear more and more talk of a box on the bottom of ballot papers for a 'Vote of No Confidence' in relation to all supplied parties (or at least something similar).

        Now, this will never go anywhere, as the two incumbent parties would have issues with even a small percentage of the population making it known that they disagree with all the parties that are apparently meant to 'represent' them. But that is exactly what caused the cynicism in the first place, the feeling that no matter what the people do, nothing will ever change. Protesting, facebook page-ing, doing nothing, it all seems to inevitably lead to the same outcome. That of 'no change'...

        Beer, for obvious reasons.

      3. John Angelico
        Black Helicopters

        Precisely Mr Watson!

        This is indeed what government control freaks want - a bland populace that may protest in some innocuous way, but which doesn't actually achieve any real political change.

  4. Diogenes


    I am just about to finish my teachin qual to teach IT in NSW & these netbooks (in NSW Lenovo S10e) are an unmitigated pain in the ****

    Problem1 - no training for the teachers in what they can do with them

    Problem 2- no good resources - "digitised" textbooks are formatted exactly like real book, ie as a near A4 pdf, so they incredibly hard to read onscreen (I am summarising the textbooks in captivate at the screen resolution the kids use for the uinits I am doing on prac)

    Problem 3. Getting the kids to bring them to school - see problem 2 - bags already full of "real" books

    Problem 4 they are locked enough that you can't put any software on them , but not enough so kids can load flash games into them (which they play instead of working)

    Problem 5 there are 2 separete networks in schools - 1 run by the states & 1 by the feds - and never the twain shall meet !

    Problem 6 "so I need to open MS Word to get my design docs & then open flash CS4 " - "SIr my computer has locked up!"

    Problem 7 updates for all the software happening in the middle of class- yes they are locked down enough so that you can't change the time & adobe will update whenever it wants anyway - "SIr my computer has locked up !"

    Problem 8 don't rely on them having enough battery to get through to period 6 because of problem 4

    Problem 8 the kids hate them as they are decidedly not cool & the screen is too small

    Icon - because I almost look like this guy :-)

  5. BonezOz

    I call BS

    Thank God I don't have to vote, being a permanent resident and all, the choices in government this time around are worse than last time.

    First we have to deal with one government both attempting to assist the current generation of students with computers and education by giving them a laptop, then that same government is trying to put into place this BS freedom of speech filter on the internet, yet are building a fibre network for faster filtered internet, go figure.

    Then we have the other side that's going to take away the laptops and revert to old methods of education and I have yet to see a comment about the proposed freedom of information filter. Then they want to stop this whole National Broadband scheme and send us even further into the dark ages.

    Honestly, this is complete and utter BS, we need a government in place that is both mindful of spending yet will continue to advance Australia technologically. Labor is currently the best choice for that, as long as the permanently drop this BS internet filter plan.

  6. Aussie Brusader

    Fortunately this is a short election run - YAY B-)

    Have to admit that I have no idea why they would choose laptops over desktops, with all the theft, security and cost issues...

    Things never change, only the faces do...

  7. Alexander Rogge

    Technology in the Classroom

    The plans to have technology in the classroom have really gotten out of hand. More and more schools are trying to force the use of laptop computers to do tasks that could be done faster and cheaper with a pencil and paper. Teachers don't know what to do with the laptops, students don't have a good use for them, and eventually breakage and disuse make the plans for classroom technology a total waste of money.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And then the americans come in and do a micros~1

    Some guy is astroturfing his government report that says you're backward if you are teaching and not pouring technology in the bucketload. The comments section behind the second link is basically him defending his position by repetition despite getting thoroughly trounced as an obnoxious bullshitter. Watching trainwrecks make it into national (US) policy, anyone?

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