Wednesday, December 2, 2015

computer literacy

Backed by technology leaders, nonprofits and companies, schools in New York, San Francisco and other cities have committed to offer computer science to students in all grade levels. Chicago also says computer science will eventually become a high school requirement.
I concede that computer literacy is likely to be a sine qua non of the future. For better or worse, it strikes me as a fact and I would like to think kids would not be deprived. I further concede that I am sluggish with age.

But I still want to know what these children can accomplish when the electricity goes off. Can they tie a square knot, add/subtract/multiply/divide, skin a rabbit, dress a wound, skip, suss out a snake-oil salesman, change a flat, write a small poem, or know the satisfaction of a spit ball? What built-in skills will they have when they are unattended and empty-handed?

It may all sound hopelessly antiquated and backward-leaning until anyone does in fact lose the electricity. Isn't this important? I think it is -- not in some excluding or elevated sense (computers-bad-common-sense-good) but rather in the sense that, with or without electricity, everyone would like to be happy and happiness, as often as not, requires a few tools.

What are things like when anyone stops relying on something else?


  1. They'll be eaten by feral dogs while the knuckleheads who know how to sharpen a stick will live on. Medicine will have to be reinvented after enough evolutionary oddities come along who favor science over religion. But we've done it before. Maybe we'll do it again, probably coming to the same near extinction as this one. Or perhaps, this extinction will take care of the knuckleheads with the pointed sticks too.

  2. Genkaku,

    As you know full well, education is a very politically sensitive and an extremely profitable business, public education most of all.

    In my experience of being a teacher for almost 25 years, the opinions of concerned adults, caregivers, parents, grandparents, etc., are only given lip service and not attended to at all unless there are Mega Bucks provided or intense political pressure (or both) to back the opinions up. But, to be fair, even if all the varied and sometimes contradictory opinions were well considered, these opinions couldn't possibly all be incorporated into a K-12 Curriculum.

    While I am not a fan of Hilary Clinton, I did like her oft quoted idea of child raising / education- "It Takes a Village." In the meantime, parents are the ones responsible. By teaching by example, doing directing teaching, and finding suitable mentoring and tutoring.

    As for your rather useful list, again, first and foremost it is the parents' responsibility. Be mindful of the fact that for each of these things a great deal of time may need to be spent just motivating the children, then the time teaching, evaluating and reteaching until some criteria are meet. On balance some of the things on your list would have to be eliminated because the reasonable use of time would be better spent elsewhere, really.

    But the question becomes what does an educational system deem most important to spend time on -- "on the basics," "reading the classics," "doing art," "acquiring computer skills," "developing creativity", etc. I have my opinion and others have theirs.

    You think meetings of Zen students and their problematic teacher(s) get out of control and taken over by those with suspect ethics and motives, reduced to blathering emotionality by immature students, and to nonsense willingly uninformed naivete? Try attending a local school board meeting and getting your any of the items list considered by those "in power" and put into your local school's curriculum.

  3. Excuse the typos. Editing long comments in Blogspot is rather difficult at my end.

    BTW -- These days I use my iPhone or IPad for much of my time on the 'net. I have found making comments in Blogspot virtually impossible using an iPhone or iPad. I've tried to find some better Apps but so far I have been unable.

    1. Would using an iphone and ipad qualify under "computer literacy"? Internet literacy seems to be a thing of more common usage in business and ... i dunno. It seems as if the machines are designing and building the machines to human specifications.

      And learning life skills from parents who are both working and then exhausted on the 2nd or 3rd generation of not learning any parenting skills by example, well, the news is full of stories suggesting a lack of any common sense a mother might expect of a child.

      The jobs advertised loudly are all in technical fields. Even farming is a corporate/factory venture. But handymen and truck drivers are still needful. And if James Lovelock should be proved correct, an ability to effectively wield a pointed stick may become the most secure position.

      A knowledge of animal husbandry and gardening might be helpful. But we'd have to relearn how to produce bronze from scratch to get past rock chipping. Book technology would be a luxury soon forgotten i'd think.

      If education is to prepare us for the future, we might want to be very sure what that future will look like. As i follow the news, i fear for future generations.