A “Teacher” magazine
looks at the devotion of many teachers to the Mac platform and their efforts to keep it in their school systems.
It tells of Charles Dribin, a 50-year-old speech, theater, and English teacher, who has been “proselytizing” for Apple and the Mac at Glenbrook North High School in the Chicago suburbs. It tells of Randy Ware, a 31-year-old industrial arts teacher in Dalton, Georgia, who constantly plugs the Mac.
The article tells of Marco Torres, a social studies teacher at San Fernando High School in Los Angeles, who feels that the Mac’s simplicity frees children to learn. “You work on a PC, but you create on the Mac,” she is quoted as saying. Torres’ class produced desktop movies using Apple’s Final Cut software; a project that Torres says would never be possible on a PC. “The Mac allows you to focus more on the projects and less on the actual technology.”
There’s Jorge Santini, a technology lab teacher in Van Nuys, California, who keeps a white loose-leaf binder called “Why Macintosh” in his 30-iMac computer lab. There’s Mike McLaughlin, an American literature teacher in Wells, Maine, who tries to convert his kids to the Mac. The “Teacher” article mentions John Eller, a Des Moines, Iowa, journalism teacher, who has been going to school board meetings for almost a year to fight plans to phase out Macs. And there’s Paul Otto, a music teacher at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester, Virginia, who says that, “only exposing kids to PCs is similar to teaching English as the only language.” Finally, there’s Jacque Green who teaches family and consumer sciences at Mid-Prairie High in Wellman, Iowa, and held out for a Mac instead of a PC.
“America’s classrooms are home to legions of Mac fanatics like Charles Dribin, thanks in part to the company’s early dominance in the education market,” writes Jason Tanz in the article. “They subscribe to print magazines such as MacAddict and Macworld and check the daily headlines on Web sites devoted to Apple news, such as MacCentral and MacSurfer. And for years, they’ve been evangelizing in their schools, passing out Apple stickers in the teachers’ lounge and railing against Microsoft’s Windows.”
He says that today Mac evangelists find their crusade is turning into “a battle for survival” as many schools dump Macs for all PC networks. Apple, of course, plans to reverse its recent downswing in the education market, starting this spring.
“In the 1980s and early ’90s, schools were particularly strong houses of Mac worship,” Tanz said. “Apple was the first major computer manufacturer to offer steep discounts to schools and educators, and it quickly cornered the education market for computers. A 1983 survey found 34,000 schools using Apples — twice the number of any other brand. At the time, Apple was aggressively wooing teachers. In 1986, it sent about 2,000 educators to San Francisco and paid their room and board so that they could attend the Apple World Conference.”
The company also aimed some of its “clever, avant-garde advertising” directly at teachers, he writes. One 1987 television spot featured a high schooler and “frog advocate” who had made national news as a conscientious objector to a class dissection. Using Apple’s Operation Frog software, the ad noted, students could learn anatomy without cutting open animals.
“Apple has always marketed itself to segments of the business where you have a great deal of independent thinkers,” Mark Margevicius, a Stamford, Connecticut-based industry analyst, told Teacher magazine. “It resonates with teachers and educators in particular.”
One of Apple’s problems in the education market, writes Tanz, is that companies such as Dell and Gateway have “plunged into the education market, investing heavily in point-of-contact personnel, such as sales and support staff.” On the other hand, some school officials feel that it’s best to teach students Wintel systems since the business world is top heavy with Window PCs.
“Mac evangelists, naturally, reject such arguments,” Tanz writes. “The Windows operating system is a clunky rip-off, they say. What’s more, technology changes so rapidly that there is no guarantee that any platform will be dominant when kids graduate.”
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for all the details. And in the interest of disclosure, let this reporter point out that he is quoted in the article. I just wanted you to know.