Sunday, October 5, 2008

LeapFrogging to Idiocracy

I saw on T.V. an advertisement that made me shake my head in disbelief.

A man was dressed in a frog costume in back of a table with two books. One book was an illustrated children’s book on amphibians and the other a LeapFrog book with Spongebob and frogs. “Which book is more fun to read” he would ask each kid who – surprise, surprise – picked the LeapFrog book.

OK, so you think you have a better way to get kids to read, but why go to all the trouble making the real book – the book on amphibians – look like something a kid should not touch with a 10 foot pole? That’s just what they did with their - would you rather have Spongebob read to you or have to look at this clearly inferior printed material when compared to ours - attitude

I think the LeapFrog method has merit – as a tool to get children to not be afraid of reading because they stumble over words. But time spent with a LeapFrog product is not reading. It is pointing a wand at commercial characters and listening to them read for you.

There was nothing wrong with the book on amphibians based on what I could see. It had descriptions of the frogs and very colorful illustrations of what they looked like. That is what reading is supposed to do for a child – open their eyes to the world out there.

LeapFrog’s webpage states that they "put learning first" and have developed a methodology that incorporates three principles into their products:
  1. We start with a rigorous, proven learning methodology
  2. We create compelling, multi-layered content
  3. We deliver the content and learning experience through the use of technology that is intuitive, invisible and engaging.
I would like to add a forth…..

We value the licensing agreement and want to create a world where all information is obtained from commercial venues and independent thought curtailed unless we own the rights to it.

“We put education first” the say. Not as I see it. I think what it needs to say is:

“Leapfrog we make good little consumers out of every child.”

Who needs books when you can have a wand!

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