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I don’t want iPads next year.

I’ll admit--at first, I was excited. For one thing, it was an excuse for me to get an iPad! For another thing, it would mean the end of the dreaded freshman backpack, easy access to any information I wanted whenever I wanted it, and Temple Run tournaments in science cl--I mean, during free periods....

But when our school announced that students would have to provide their own iPads (completely contradicting the previous claim that they would provide us with iPads, for the record), my opinion changed entirely. When I actually started to think about it, I realized that there are so many ways this system could go wrong! Allow me to address some of these issues, starting with [what I find to be] the biggest problem: cost.

Now, for some, paying for the iPad may not be an issue, but for many of us, the cost poses a serious obstacle. The school “recommends” at least an iPad 2, 3rd generation or later, which you might be lucky to find for $400 at the very least (and that’s through some pretty sketchy distributors). A 32GB iPad 2 is probably what will give students the most comfort as far as data management, and those cost upwards of $500 for the device alone. Add in $100 for AppleCare+ and a protective case at $30 or more and you’re spending more than $600--and that doesn’t even factor in the cost of ebooks and apps yet!

When we were told the school would provide the iPads, that offered the possibility of financial assistance to help cover the costs of the iPad for those already receiving it. Now, with the policy changed and more than half the school unable to pay tuition without financial aid, I don’t understand what possessed the administration to make us provide our own iPads. My family will have four kids at this school next year--three of my brothers and myself--which means at least $2400 for iPads for all of us, plus the recommended warranties and cases.

And what about next year’s seniors? An iPad won’t do us much good when we’re hammering out essays in college, even with a [$50] detachable keyboard. Buying a brand new iPad to use for one year is simply a waste of money. Why require every student to use iPads next year? Couldn’t the seniors be excused if they wanted to be? Shouldn’t it be our choice if we want to throw out our backs lugging around 600-page textbooks?

According to the school’s iPad FAQ page, “Most electronic books cost much less than traditional textbooks. The current World History text costs $97.52 hard copy and is $14.99 as an iBook.” However, they fail to account for the fact that hardly anyone buys new books. Families like mine can easily pass textbooks down from sibling-to-sibling, or even cousin-to-cousin. Upperclassmen always sell their old textbooks to their underclassman friends for reduced prices. Any novel required for a class can easily be obtained at a used bookstore, library, or from an upperclassman because--surprise!--book lists rarely change. Like, ever.

Also, with the institution of ebooks comes the brutal, merciless slaughter of paper textbooks and notebooks. You might be thinking--perfect! No more backpacks twice your size and weight, no more getting smacked in the face whenever a freshman turns around, no more aching limbs! But at the same time, this means no more convenient notes in the margins that make your teacher think you’re smart (thank you, Half-Blood Prince), no more flipping back and forth to easily reference other pages, no more accidentally turning to a random page and happening to find an unexpectedly entertaining picture of an overweight bear (page 44 in your bio books, kids. You’re welcome.)

Think about it: this could be the end of all things we hold near and dear to our hearts. Notes on iPads means the end of your days of forgetting to do your homework then saying you left it in your locker, only to finish it during lunch and hand it in next period! And your handwriting, so well-structured that it could be its own font, will magically become illegible somewhere between your stylus and the screen. Personal experience has taught me that even with a stylus, your handwriting on an iPad will turn out looking like it was written by a kindergartner using his left hand. (I, for one, shall continue to use paper notebooks because I personally prefer being able to read my own notes.)

“But using iPads will save paper!” you say. Yeah, sure, I can let you think that, but remember that iPads run on batteries. And the batteries are charged with electricity, which--now this may come as a surprise to some--is produced in a power plant by burning fossil fuels and polluting our atmosphere with toxic gases. There’s no way out, people. We will always be killing our planet. But at least we can recycle paper and reuse books!

The school is apparently making huge efforts to install a fancy-shmancy new system to make the Internet faster next year. But in all honesty, is this really going to work? 1,400 students on iPads all the time, all day? Brace yourselves for slow connection, Google Docs that never save, and the eternal buffering of YouTube videos.

Plus, even with the “protective cases,” there is always the risk of breakage. True, students [hopefully] won’t be casually tossing around $600 pieces of equipment like they would notebooks, but the inevitable fact is that iPads will break. Even with the warranty, a student will be totally without books, notes, or means of completing an assignment until the replacement arrives.

Breaking isn’t the only problem that can leave a student stranded. Let’s remember that iPads run on a battery, and a battery can drain! Especially with the screen lit to its highest setting (thanks, fluorescent classroom lights) and Wi-Fi on all day, the battery can run out quickly. Then what? The student has no way to participate in the lesson until they can access a charger. This could mean relocating a student to a seat by a wall outlet, which could disrupt the entire class by re-arranging the seating chart, etc. In the end, it’s just not worth the hassle.

And last but not least, I shall address probably the most obvious issue iPads present: distractions. iPads are basically the legal equivalent of a cell phone in school: we can play games, explore the infinite depths of the Internet, instant message each other, listen to music, draw pictures, read (other, non-school related) books and magazines--the possibilities are literally endless. Teachers have promised that they have ways of knowing who’s staying on task and who’s not paying attention, but honestly--who will pay attention when we have access to the entire extent of knowledge in the world at our fingertips? And if they try to stop us...there are loopholes...there are always loopholes....

But why iPads? There are other tablets, other devices. The school just got a cart of Google Chromebooks. They are small, portable, easy-to-use, durable laptops--for only $249. For half the price, we can have the equivalent of an iPad that will actually be practical in college!
Now...please don’t tell me I’m the only one who simply likes good ol’ paper and pencils. All other arguments aside, I really don’t want to lose the tradition that comes with exerting pressure on a pen to produce ink on a page that trees have lost their lives to produce for the sake of your education! Isn’t technology taking over our lives enough? We need a reminder of simpler times.



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Artgirl1999This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 8:27 am:
Really good job on this! I agree with you, even though I'm homeschooled and own an iPad. :D
 
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