Evening Standard's Richard Godwin can't stand IT - even for fact-checking NASA's "space pen"

 by Martin Belam, 10 February 2010

Richard Godwin writes in tonight's Evening Standard "IT in schools is doomed - keep a pencil handy".

20100210 Godwin Space Pen

He complains that the march of technology in schools has concentrated on providing equipment that fails, and that the old blackboard and chalk never broke down.

"Teachers complain about losing control of classes as they wire up laptops, crash, click, reboot, abort"

He says that "I consider myself lucky to have been among the last academic years to use libraries".

It is a nice sentiment to reminisce about those lovely old days, but I've been to plenty of presentations and talks that demonstrate that overall usage of University libraries has increased since they started offering digital assets and ebooks, as well as solely print materials.

Shift To E slide

Godwin finishes with a flourish:

"As we seek to replace lovely durable books with expensive, expendable iPads and teachers with robots, it's worth remembering the story of NASA's space pens. The Americans spent millions developing a writing implement that would work in zero gravity. The Russians had a far better solution. Their cosmonauts simply took up a pencil".

'Story' is the operative word.

The American 'space pen' is an urban myth.

If only there had been some kind of distributed electronic information retrieval system that Godwin could have consulted to fact-check his assertion before publishing...


With the change in the whole society, I think the schooling method also needs to be changed, also the teachers needs to change their mind instead of complaining!

This is almost like saying that we should go back to riding horses since they do not get flat tires or break down.

His argument does not take into account the productivity that technology has given us. There are pros and cons to everything. But the pros clearly outweigh the cons. The only thing constant in life is change so we have to flow with it.

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