Sunday, April 17, 2005

What about Sony walkmans (then discmans)?

Scourge – "A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war."

Not really the first word that springs to mind when describing the impact of iPods:

Education commentator Christopher Bantick, who branded iPods a "scourge", warned that kids who took them to school could be distracted from learning.

When I think of iPods, the word that springs to mind is "overrated" (compared to my brilliant Pocket PC). The use of the word scourge, however, is a clear example of a weasel word an emotionally loaded label used to bolster one's position. But one fallacy is not enough:

"If they are playing them throughout the day they are definitely leading to social isolation and a very clear distraction from instruction," Mr Bantick said.

"Definitely". Could this be an example of a factoid propogation? What evidence does Bantick base this claim on? Why just iPods? People have been using portable music players for decades. My own (admittedly anecdotal) evidence would suggest this is not true. More often that not students share headphones to listen to music. The music then becomes a topic of conversation: "I really like the new Britney Spears song, do you want to hear it?" I'm no teen psychologist, but this doesn't seem to be particularly isolating.

As to iPods being a "...clear distraction from instruction" - not in any class I teach. I find it difficult to believe that any other teachers allow students to listen to portable music players when they are "instructing" students, as Bantick is implying.