This was, of course, excruciating.
In the Capital of Silicon Valley:
- Hunting and pecking, with one finger of one hand.
- Debilitating shock and awe at the appearance and persistent existence of the dreaded MS Word red line beneath any proper noun.
- Inconsistent and illogical ideas about indentation.
- Repeated inability to master the alt-ctrl-deleting necessary to log-in.
- A single-minded commitment to the acquisition of the Old English font in which a serious lack of font-acquiring knowledge and skill proved incapable of blunting even a little.
- Persistent sudden "disappearance" of all text I magically bring back utilizing sleight-of-hand and ctrl-Z.
Obviously, there is no greater pain.
I could go on, at great length, about the absurdity of kids living in the (literal and figurative) shadows of Silicon Valley techno giants lacking basic computer knowledge and word processing skills. I could write this as another symptom of systemic inequity -- the rich kids learn to read and type! -- or another gross example of a floundering educational system that cannot adequately prepare young people to enter today's global economy. I should point out that money has been directed at the problem -- we have a functioning computer lab, five flatscreens in every classroom, every teacher has a laptop and access to an LCD projector, and we have two mobile laptop carts replete with theoretical wireless access to the internet and a printer -- but still the problem persists. I could write all that, but really, we all know the words to this particular song.
My thing is: How do I fix it? On some level I question even the necessity of teaching kids the finer points of MS Wording and Start Menu management when they cannot decode, comprehend, write, or analyze. Yeah, the kid's not coming off the screen with a hard roll, and he forgets to move into help when the ball is two passes away, but he also can't dribble or make a lay-up. Where is the area of greatest need? I don't disagree with myself in this one, but I'm still scribbling notes on the legal pad I keep by the bed because the ideas tend to start squishing out sometime between the hours of two and four a.m. -- which is all pretty disgusting when you get right down to it. I'm making embryonic plans like building in computer lab trips as part of first week activities, establishing procedures and norms around the typing program my RSP push-in colleague found and had installed, making typed words per minute the fifth Big Goal.
I wonder at the interplay of computer literacy and English literacy, the acquisition of critical codes with no objective referents. How one can be used to build upon the other, or inform the process of dual acquisition. Yes! Dual language immersion: English and Windows.