21
   

Back in the olden days when I was a kid

 
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 04:11 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Quote:
I don't know what they mean by 'technological literacy,' but if it means knowing how computers work (hardware and software) and how best to use them to get what you want, then it is of the paramount importance, because our society is only headed towards increased usage....


Well then I have to wonder why we haven't spent the last 100 years teaching all children to be electricians.


Ah! We have, however, taught them to be users of electricity; extensively so. Modern children know how to use a gigantic array of electric devices. They have a basic understanding of how they work. Interfaces are reasonably standardized and easy to understand.

Teaching children to use computers is the earliest and first step. As they get older, they learn how they work - and how to properly exploit their higher-order functions. It is of paramount importance that children achieve the highest level of familiarity and skill with computers!

Cycloptichorn
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 04:57 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
But knowing how to use electricty doesn't make you an electrician. I'll bet most people can't tell you how electricty works.

Why do you believe that someone needs to know how hardware and softwear works to use a computer? Why would someone need to know how program X works when they might only end up using program Y?

I've worked for/with companies whose softwear was completely proprietary. How does knowing anything about a mass market program prepare me for that? How does what they might teach me in high school "technological literacy" class translate into the real world, except for maybe the typing aspect?

I'm asking because I don't know, I'm not trying to be a smartass.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 05:11 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

But knowing how to use electricty doesn't make you an electrician. I'll bet most people can't tell you how electricty works.


So? We aren't talking about teaching every kid to be a hardware or software engineer - just an end-user. This is exactly the same as electricity.

Quote:
Why do you believe that someone needs to know how hardware and softwear works to use a computer? Why would someone need to know how program X works when they might only end up using program Y?

I've worked for/with companies whose softwear was completely proprietary. How does knowing anything about a mass market program prepare me for that? How does what they might teach me in high school "technological literacy" class translate into the real world, except for maybe the typing aspect?

I'm asking because I don't know, I'm not trying to be a smartass.


Good questions. My quick answer would be: there are fundamental principles which govern the functioning of a modern computer, and fundamental ways in which the machine 'thinks' differently then we as humans do. By understanding these principles and methods of thought, one can understand any computer or program written for use on one. It's like learning the rules behind grammar - we all can read a book without necessarily being able to diagram a sentence, but you don't really understand why things are the way they are, unless you delve into the complexity of the underlying system.

Understanding the hardware of computers isn't as essential for modern users as understanding the software, but it is still highly useful. Much like your car, everything works just fine with your computer 90% of the time; but basic maintenance and the understanding of it's importance raises that to 99%. And when something does go wrong, you know how to identify the problem and fix it, rather than being forced to call the Geek Squad and pay usurious rates for help from someone who DOES know it.

I would say that every kid, at the very least, should have an understanding of:

- Modern typing
- Modern Windows environment
- Modern Mac environment
- The different pieces of hardware and how they work together
- The Internet and how to use it - and protect yourself!
- Modern office software
- How file architectures work.

Learn these things, and the world is your oyster - you could use any program, written for any purpose, with minimal training. The key is to get the skills to the point where differing soft or hardware doesn't present an entirely new challenge to the user, but instead asks them to apply skills they have already learned.

Cycloptichorn
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 05:39 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Thank you for your very good answer. I'm going to chew on it for a little while.

When I watch kids (not just Mo) on the computer it's almost intuitive to them. The biggest hurdle seems to be spelling and even then they get the "did you mean...." screen.

Most kids have a computer (or two, or twenty) in their homes that are far better than the ones at school. Some of Mo's classmates have iPhones and such, which are probably better than the school computers.

To me it seems like a huge waste of time and money for the schools to be investing in computers/"technology". Many of the kids know more than the teachers. I really do think Thomas nailed it with his "cargo-cult" analogy.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 06:46 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Thank you for your very good answer. I'm going to chew on it for a little while.

When I watch kids (not just Mo) on the computer it's almost intuitive to them. The biggest hurdle seems to be spelling and even then they get the "did you mean...." screen.

Most kids have a computer (or two, or twenty) in their homes that are far better than the ones at school. Some of Mo's classmates have iPhones and such, which are probably better than the school computers.

To me it seems like a huge waste of time and money for the schools to be investing in computers/"technology". Many of the kids know more than the teachers. I really do think Thomas nailed it with his "cargo-cult" analogy.


The interesting thing about learning computers is that it takes minimal investment on the part of schools to do it - and isn't really well related to these gigantic IT purchases that we see in school districts these days. I think those mostly come from Buyers and program directors who don't have enough to do and need some new thing to justify their continued job.

I agree that most kids know more than the teachers; but I think even they would have a lot to learn about how the computer actually works, instead of just how to use it.

Imagine the world if everyone knew these things! God, to not to have to do free tech support for my family anymore... almost brings a tear to my single, monstrous eye.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 07:54 pm
Okay, I'll imagine that world.

But at 4 AM tomorrow morning I leave for a 10 day.... ahem.... vacation?.... while I worry about my dog being on probation at the run free with the dog pack in the forest kennel because he flipped out when Mr. B dropped him off today and fret about my lovely friend and neighobr who is checking on my beloved cats and is flipped out because they found a half-cat about a half-mile from here (coyote? eagle? madman?) while I chew my nails to the quick pining for my comfortable life with my wonderful pets in my easy home.

So... phhhttttbbbb.

Thanks for the food for thought; see ya on the flip side.....
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 08:01 pm
Okay.... wait... one more thing....

You know what would be a cool experiment?

If they gave two people, of similar intellect and background, the same book -- one in book form and one on an e-reader -- then they qizzed them about the book.

That might really help with the "deep reading" debate.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jul, 2010 08:09 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Okay.... wait... one more thing....

You know what would be a cool experiment?

If they gave two people, of similar intellect and background, the same book -- one in book form and one on an e-reader -- then they qizzed them about the book.

That might really help with the "deep reading" debate.


I read books almost exclusively on my Ipod now - fits in my pocket - and I haven't noticed a significant difference in the way it feels or the way I retain the information. But, it's an interesting question!

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 09:40 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
Most kids today are so tech-savvy that it seems a little absurd to spend class time on learning to operate a computer. I found myself wondering what kind of life we're preparing kids for -- how much of life will be handled by computer.

Apparently, you were ahead of the curve on that one. But according to today's New York Times, Silicon-Valley executives are now catching up to you and are beginning to ask the same question:

Quote:
LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

You can read the full Article here. It's worth it.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 09:41 am
@Thomas,
Interesting!
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 10:14 am
Thomas' article reminds me of this youtube with the baby trying to pinch-zoom a magazine photo Smile:

A Magazine is an iPad that Does Not Work
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 10:40 am
@Thomas,
Thanks Thomas!

It's comforting to know that I'm not solely in the company of weirdos and wackos when it comes to some of my "crazy" ideas about education.

I looked at Waldorf schools for Mo when he was in kindergarten and absolutely loved the one I looked at. Then we moved to our new house and the only one nearby took a very hard line approach to the Waldorf ideas -- expecting that a person's home would mimic the environment at school completely. It wasn't as good a fit for us.

I've been looking at alternative schools for Mo since he starts middle school next year. I mentioned one that I might want a referral to at his last IEP meeting and you would have thought I'd suggested something completely insane. Why? Because I liked the school's "service learning" approach to education.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Oct, 2011 08:04 am
@boomerang,
I had forgotten about this thread (did I ever see it? not sure) but definitely thought of you when I saw the Waldorf article.

The stuff about no electronic screens at all did make me wonder how good of a fit it'd be, I know Mo enjoys video games.

I think computers are neither panaceas nor evil; they can be good tools, but won't magically solve education problems either. (And my usual education rant is about the many attempts to apply quick fixes to a complicated problem. I disapprove of computers-as-quick-fixes, am fine with computers-as-tools.)
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Oct, 2011 08:36 am
On a related note, 60 Minutes did an "Apps for Autism" feature showing how the iPad
is being used to break down some communication barriers with autistic children.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2011 11:53 pm
@boomerang,
The only caveat I have is that POOR kids may well have no access to computers etc.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2011 01:41 am
I think you're missing the point here, Miss Wabbitt. They're talking about schools with no computers, and which discourage the use of computers at home.
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2011 02:06 am
@Setanta,
I'm not missing the point...Boomer's initial post addressed a much larger issue re the advisedness of focusing heavily on computer skills when kids tend to have them already...the Waldorf article was simply an example of an education program which takes a diametrically opposed view.

I think lots of kids DON'T have access to computer literacy.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2011 02:37 am
Well, returning to the subject which was most recently broached in the thread, i think it's a good idea, until the point at which they try to say there should be no electonics in the home. When i was a boy, we had to practice penmanship in school. I had always liked to draw, and i soon became quite good in penmanship. That lead me to branch out on my own and take up caligraphy. That gave me a self confidence which i wasn't getting elsewhere, and faith in my physical abilities which lead me to sports, where, although no star, i was competent. Sports lead me to dance classes (what was known as ballroom dancing, which i guess they don't do any longer). I leaned that i was a good dancer, with natural balance--i was "light on my feet" even though i was physically large, and had once thought of myself as clumsy and awkward. This helped me to develop confidence in myself in social situations, and the dacning enhanced my participation in sports. So, the ramifications of being taught penmanship were both broad and deep, and not necessarily obvious or intuitive. I like the idea of schools which call on students to do "hands on" things, because i believe they will open up many useful avenues of learning and self-development.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2011 05:21 am
@dlowan,
I see that as all the more reason to not have such a heavy reliance on them at school, especially in the early grades, as it would level the playing field a bit.

This year we got a celebratory email about how the school received 14 new computers. We didn't get a note about how the school lost ALL of it's special education aides.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2011 05:38 am
@Setanta,
Bring back woodshop!

I completely agree about hands on competence. I think all people get a sense of satisfaction in having made something with their hands. I belong to a DIY forum or two that includes all kinds of people -- from master carpenters to dedicated repurposers to people making something for the first time. No matter the skill level they are all proud of what they made.

I used to feel that way when I made a photograph. I don't get that same sense of accomplishment when I successfully manipulate pixels.
0 Replies
 
 

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