Sunday, May 5, 2013

1999 and 2012

This adorable little girl was my student back in 1999 when I started teaching in a computer lab at an international school in Bangkok.

Her kindergarten class came in once a week for 45 minutes to learn how to use the computers. At the time, nobody on administration truly felt the kindergarten students should be in the computer lab, but apparently the parents clamored for it. A good international school would have computer instruction.

I was a bit against it. I thought young minds should not spend their time in front of a screen staring, being passive. I thought they should be out playing or possibly inside reading books.

But I was determined that if they had to be in the computer lab, I would try to make it as worthwhile an experience as possible, even given the rather limited resources.

So we played number munchers. It was a cheap PacMan knock off aimed at practicing math facts.

And KidPix. They all liked the bomb, but I hated the bomb and refuse to put a picture of it here.

Number Munchers and KidPix, I felt I could justify. We were "integrating technology into the curriculum." Yes, even back before the year 2000, we said we were aiming at that. (Are we there yet?)

I thought Mavis Beacon was going a little far for kids that age. I even read articles that said young children should not be keyboarding. They had plenty of time to learn that.

Some teachers wanted to get kiddie-size keyboards. Eventually the school moved to a new building with kiddie-sized toilets. Some felt placated.

We used floppy disks that were no longer floppy. These were very modern. They were all sorts of pretty colors. And we almost never filled them up!

The floppy disks went in computers like this which was pretty advanced also. It had a cd-rom.

The crazy man is my husband who was helping me demonstrate that students were not allowed to touch the server. EVERYTHING was on that server. The school's finances. The library program. The guidance program. All of it. It sometimes got backed up to a location from which nobody knew how to restore it. That's how things were and still we slept well.

This was my student in spring 2012, graduating high school. She's all grown up now and even has herself a long-term boyfriend. (We approve of him.)

Now she is never without one of these. If she's like me, she may even walk around with several similar devices.

She probably texts like this now. She always was all thumbs. (I can't stop thinking about my thumbs as I type this. I want to thumb type.)

I'll try to digest some of this in my next blog post. I want to reflect on what we really taught students about technology a decade-and-a-half ago and how it may or may not have changed. I want to examine what was useful and what was not. Most of all, I want to try to draw conclusions about how what we are teaching today may or may not be relevant for our kindergarten students when they graduate twelve years from now.

And below is my student's comment upon seeing this post.

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