Saturday, April 10, 2021

Apple reminds us that homework, like everything else, is more fun if you're rich


The weekend's homework is "Gravity."  Well, this teacher certainly isn't running any risk of confusing kids as to the parameters of the assignment, is he?  

"What's your science homework this weekend, honey?"  


"What about it?"

99 percent of the kids who are given the assignment "gravity" and who actually want to get a good grade in the class will look up the word "gravity" on Google (if they have internet access) or an Encyclopedia and write a few words about what other people have said about gravity.  If they are lucky, there's a library open nearby and they can get a timed-entry appointment to visit it the few hours it's open on Saturday, and maybe they can find some good articles about gravity and photocopy a few pictures on the library's copying machine for ten cents a page.  The result of several hours of work is a decent-for-the-grade-level report on gravity stapled together or placed in a three-ring binder, and once upon a time that report would probably earn an A and praise for the effort.

The other 1 percent will whip out their thousand-dollar iPads and put together a two-minute film featuring gravity at work.  Those other kids wrote that watermelons and eggs fall to the ground at equal speeds, but here's a film SHOWING that phenomenon, created by the iPad Cody got for Christmas which is in a color that matches the Lexus mom got.  That 1 percent had a great time doing their homework because they had this expensive piece of technology that did practically all the work for them while they "demonstrated gravity" by playing on tire swing and dropping food off of bridges.  And while a pile of stapled hand-written essays on gravity sit on the teacher's desk, the teacher is in raptures over the awesome, professional-quality film about gravity that 1 percent of kids were able to produce while having fun. 

I teach Advanced Placement US History.  The cumulative test is scheduled for next month.  It will be taken by some 350,000 High School students, some of whom have access to Apps, review videos and practice tests created by The College Board to help kids with access to tech maximize their performance on the exam.  Most of the students who take the exam will rely on their notes, textbooks, and maybe a prep book or two because they do NOT have the ability to access this tech.  Watching this commercial from Apple, it's more than a little depressing to see that the gulf between the haves and have nots is not being created when kids get to High School but much earlier- like, the moment the children first enter the public school system.  I wonder how much attention and praise those homely hand-written reports sitting on his desk will get compared to the flashy video created by a piece of expensive tech and a group of kids who learned how to use it before they learned how to count because their parents could afford to purchase it.  

Oh, and one word to the obnoxious narrator attempting to bleat a poem during this awful celebration of privilege:  As you describe homework, it still "stinks" for 99 percent of kids.  The message of your little poem is actually "homework does NOT stink if you're rich.  Since 99 percent of kids are not rich, it still stinks for 99 percent of kids.  But this commercial is not aimed at those kids." 

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