Open letter to those who call themselves ecologists, but do not resist progress…

Dear Mayor, Dear Mr. Deleuze,

Whether in other municipalities in Belgium, in France, elsewhere in Europe or in the world, your municipality unfortunately does not distinguish itself from the others, and adopts a following that it would like to pass off as natural by proposing to make the opening of schools to « new technologies » a « pedagogical priority ». For example, in the January-February 2017 official commune newspaper, under the heading « Digital School », it stated,  » Since 2014, the Commune has equipped several primary classrooms with TBIs (interactive whiteboards). Directly connected to the computer, this board allows teachers to illustrate a lesson or to broadcast a documentary, but also allows the student to solve a calculation. (…) Another computer support in kindergarten: the tablet (sic). A pilot project is underway this year at Le Colibri school: the creation of a digital life notebook .

In the first 2018 issue, the commune hammered home the point:  » Society, the workplace and schools are constantly evolving and placing more and more emphasis on digital technology. This means of communication is therefore one of the educational priorities of the local schools. A « digital school » project manager accompanies and trains teaching teams in the use of interactive whiteboards and tablets, and monitors the installation and wiring of digital equipment in schools « .

Ah, that famous « evolution », always… We would like to know on what basis you are launching so quickly into the digitization of schools, while the warnings are multiplying? Did you know that Silicon Valley bosses enroll their children in Waldorf, a school where screens are absent throughout their schooling? What do you think they do, except protect their offspring from the harmfulness of the objects they produce and with which they get rich? Because they know the most serious effects: attention disorders, developmental delay (language, motor skills, cognition, sociability, emotional …), virtual autism, emotional dependence … Screens are ubiquitous, from birth, and have proven harmful effects on children’s development. Adding them permanently to a classroom as a replacement for the chalkboard or notebook is completely absurd, not to mention the enormous cost involved.

Once this reality is accepted, or at least the precautionary principle is respected, you will have to go further, because the technologization of schools is accompanied by multiple problems; for example, wifi, whose studies have shown that radio frequency radiation (RFR) is carcinogenic (classified as such by the WHO), could also affect the blood-brain barrier of the brain, allowing toxic molecules to penetrate it, damaging neurons in the hippocampus, deregulating the production of proteins essential to the brain… Lennart Hardell, a Swedish oncologist, launched a warning signal by publishing the Reykjavik Appeal, on  » exposure from cell phone base stations, wifi hotspots, smartphones, laptops and tablets (…) at home and at school « (1). As Philippe Bihouix and Karine Mauvilly say in their book Le désastre de l’école numérique (The Digital School Disaster), the project to digitize the school  » is thoughtless and dangerous, from a pedagogical, ecological, health and social point of view »(Silence, September 2017). Even the OECD’s PISA tests show that  » students in countries that have invested the most in introducing computers into schools perform less well academically.

Therefore, Mr. Mayor, you should work with your colleagues to make schools places protected from these harmful technologies, without sparingly introducing them to the use of computers. In the meantime, don’t worry, they will have other things to do with their heads and hands, activities that cost little or nothing! There is so much to discover in and out of school. Moreover, this example will initiate debates and discussions with parents, who think they are doing the right thing by hyperconnecting their homes and leaving their children in front of screens for hours a day.

Finally, even if this digitization were to prove pedagogically beneficial — which it is not — it would remain an ecological and social disaster, based on savage extractivism and the slavery of children and adults. If you think the health argument is unfounded, would you at least grasp this one, and in that case answer me: can we continue to destroy nature for our « technological well-being »? Last week, scientists warned again about the alarming degradation of biodiversity and the need to change our lifestyles as soon as possible. What we do not see, do not want to see, is that this disappearance of the species will sign the disappearance of ours. This is certainly the greatest challenge we will have to face, if we want the human species to survive.

Thus, an « educational priority » would be to make children and their parents aware of this reality and of the changes that need to be adopted urgently. We expect zeal in this area, not in « digitizing our schools ».


Alexandre Penasse

Editor-in-Chief of the KAIROS newspaper

Notes et références
  1. Voir « Pour une école sans Wifi », L’Écologiste, janvier-mars 2018.

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