PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Anh; children: A.J., Moss. Education: University of California at Berkeley, B.A., 1981; Portland State University, graduate study, 1991. Hobbies and other interests: "Woodworking, portrait sculpture, calligraphy, and various sports."
CAREER: Freelance journalist and investigative reporter. Has worked as a calligrapher, portrait sculptor, professional actor, and mime. Has appeared as a guest on radio and television programs, including American Broadcasting Company's (ABC) Nightline.
MEMBER: Writer's Grotto Collective.
AWARDS, HONORS: Investigative Reporters & Editors' Award for small newspapers, 1986, for "Durham's Hidden Tax Breaks," and Washington Monthly monthly journalism award for excellence in government reporting, 1987, for "Solutions to Sprawl," both published in North Carolina Independent; Chairman's Award for environmental journalism, 1996, for "The Rancher Subsidy," National Magazine Award for public interest reporting, 1997, for "The Computer Delusion," and Education Writer's Association Award for national magazines, 1999, for "Schooling the Imagination," all published in Atlantic Monthly.
The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom, and How Learning Can Be Saved, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Newsweek, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, National Journal, Washington Post, Utne Reader, Mother Jones, Sacramento Bee, and London Observer.
SIDELIGHTS: A veteran journalist and youth mentor, Todd Oppenheimer spent seven years researching the dramatic and growing impact of computers on today's classrooms. The result is The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom, and How Learning Can Be Saved. Despite the book's premise, Oppenheimer is not opposed to technology. Indeed, he was one of the first journalists to embrace the new technology, eagerly delving into the world of personal computers and the Internet. And like many, Oppenheimer had high hopes for the use of new technology in the classroom. But as he began visiting those classrooms, he "observed many students noodling about on the Web, clicking aimlessly from site to site," as School Library Journal contributor Walter Minkel explained. More and more, Oppenheimer began to question the money being spent to make classrooms Internet-accessible, and the underlying philosophy that equated glitzy new technology with progress in learning. As Timothy A. Hacsi explained in the New York Times Book Review, "His descriptions of excellent schools using computers in a limited way, if at all, gets at the heart of what good classrooms look like: teachers who know how to teach . . . and students who believe they can and should learn from those teachers." According to Seattle Times reviewer Steve Weinberg, "Anybody who cares about the successes and failures of kindergarten through grade-twelve education should read The Flickering Mind, a painstakingly reported, passionately argued book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom, and How Learning Can Be Saved, p. 30.
Boulder Daily Camera, January 4, 2004, Geof Wollerman, review of The Flickering Mind.
Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 2003, review of The Flickering Mind.
Contra Costa Times, December 21, 2003, Suzanne Pardington, "'Flickering' Plugs into Tech/Learning Disconnect."
Dallas Morning News, January 18, 2004, Joshua Benton, review of The Flickering Mind.
Denver Post, December 7, 2003, Steve Weinberg, review of The Flickering Mind, section F, p. 15.
Education Next, summer, 2004, Brian Nelson, "Quality Curricula: The Timeless Technology," p. 79.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2003, review of The Flickering Mind, p. 1007.
Library Journal, September 15, 2003, Jean Caspers, review of The Flickering Mind, p. 67.
New Criterion, April, 2004, Mark Bauerlein, "As Seen on TV," p. 84.
New Leader, September-October, 2003, Paul Gray, "Conflicting Visions of Education," p. 18.
New York Times Book Review, January 4, 2004, Timothy A. Hacsi, "Tales out of School," p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, August 11, 2003, review of The Flickering Mind, p. 266.
School Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Walter Minkel, "Rage against the Machine," p. 34.
Seattle Times, October 26, 2003, Steve Weinberg, "The Short-circuiting of U.S. Education."
Newsweek Online,http://www.newsweek.com/ (October 14, 2003), "Are Computers Wrecking Schools?"