Probably going to sound like a new age person here
but really I am not.
The point is that the world children are being born into today is not the world you and I grew up in. In large swathes of the world people are nearly constantly connected to the web, younger people especially. We have to learn different things and in different ways, than we did 30 years ago.
I think kids should be allowed laptops in exams, tablets too, but that the exams should take this into account. How often do you find yourself completely isolated from the raw computing power of the web and the masses of information it holds? If you are isolated from the web, how often is that without a computer of some kind (a laptop, a phone, a tablet, whatever) that has literally thousands of text books worth of storage on it?
If you're under 20, the answer's probably very rarely.
I'm pretty sure lots of commenters will disagree with me here, saying how they spend twelve hours a day in a mill, in a field making sprockets, uphill in the snow both ways. Or that they have many friends who never go online or the like.
Probably true for the older generations.
But for children, the web is the encyclopaedia, the television, the local social club and their penpal and their games console all in one. And it fits in their pocket.
So while laptops in the school seems like a bad idea when you think of a world like we grew up in, is it really so bad that they might not know who Harold defeated at the battle of Stamford Bridge?
I'm not saying they should rely on machines for everything, maths, basic language skills and the knowledge we all gathered as children is important. But how you gather it is really not as important. Sure I had the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but it was slow and it was hard to get the relevant detail out of the morass of information I was presented with. Then my school got Encarta and life became ever so slightly easier, now we have university sites, the dreaded wikipedia and whole hosts of specialist sites accessible at our fingertips.
Learning something from a web page is just as valuable as learning it from a book.
For subjects like history, I can see a strong case for multimedia, interviews with people and so on. Proper first hand evidence.
Oh no, computers in the classroom are definitely a strong part of how children should be taught, nostalgia to the contrary.