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.
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.