Thursday, March 31, 2005

Good or Bad, Technology is Here

I'm going to try to answer Rachel H.'s question as much as I can. In 1985 I started going to a suburban elementary school that had a pretty large computer center for that time. We would only used computers for fun learning games like Number Muncher, Oregon Trail, or Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? In middle school we had a computer center which almost no one used them except the "special" and "troubled" kids. It wasn't until high school that they started teaching us any real computer skills. Teachers would go show us how to use Microsoft Word and Quark, floppy discs, internet, etc. Now it might be that the school systems had been teaching high schoolers real computer skills for years before I entered, but I wouldn't know about that. Do any of you more finely aged students remember when they started teaching you how to use computers for anything other than gaming purposes?
So I guess children of the eighties were kind of ready for the computer age. I have seen computers in the classroom since I was in 1st grade, but they weren't a major part of my education until I had to write papers in high school.
As for the "New Technology" article, I thought it had some good points, but, as he says in the conclusion, it's really too late to do anything about it. I think technology in the classroom and everywhere else in society is here to stay, right or wrong. And I don't think it's a problem in schools, as long as the students aren't focused on just learning about the new technology. That's what technical colleges are for. As long as they still learn their core subjects (including the humanities, a culture without art and literature is a dead culture) I don't see a problem with technology in schools.
-Bryce, ex-artist


  1. I think we must be about the same age -- I too have fond memories of playing "The Oregon Trail" in school, and whatever that game about fish was. Otherwise the computer just sat in the corner of the classroom, unused.

    I don't remember having anything in the way of real computer training in school. In middle school we'd occasionally be taken to the computer lab to do something, but I don't think we ever covered anything I didn't already know how to do.

    My mom got a home PC way back in 1987, and that was how I really learned to use the computer. I mostly just played games, but in those days just playing games required a fair amount of typing (and DOS commands!), so I was picking up some real skills. I do remember that I was one of the few kids in my 5th grade class who could type, and my teacher asked me to type some things up for other kids for a class project. Even in high school I often wound up as a typist for the literary magazine or yearbook. I think kids that didn't have a computer at home probably never really learned to use them, even though they were always present in my schools.

    Unfortunately, my lack of formal training means that I never learned to type properly. I'm fairly fast and efficient, but I do almost everything with just my two index fingers. I wish I had taken a class that covered typing skills at some point, but it wasn't even an option until high school. By then I'd been using computers for years and didn't want to be stuck in some beginner's class.

  2. bryce, why are you an ex-artist?

  3. I guess I can see the issue from both sides of the coin...
    At my high school in 1984 (the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics), we were all required to take a Basic programming course. Only the true geeks, took Advanced Basic and Fortran. My first year in college, we used a VAX system for word processing where in order to change fonts one had to type in a series of codes. We were introduced to the VAX system as part of the English course. Then one semester later, the collge opened its brand new computer lab full of PCs with WordPerfect. The student body was strongly encouraged to attend training on the new PCs and WordPerfect.
    In the early 1990s, I worked as a French teacher and was strongly encouraged to incorporate computer technolgy in my class. So I wrote a computer program that allowed my students to play a game on the computer. It's interesting to note that the school was located in rural SC and that it did have a computer lab with about 20 PCs where teachers could take their students. The school also offered a keyboarding class and a comouterized accounting course which (if memory doesn't fail me) was for the non-college prep kids.
    Flash forward to 1992, as a Masters' student in Accounting, we had to demonstrate proficiency in word processing and spreadsheets. We had to either pass a test or complete a course... WordPerfect or Word and Excel or Quattro ...