Thursday, April 19, 2007

Issues of Attitudes and Access

Computers have become a somewhat ubiquitous thing in our lives. As college students, we rely heavily on computers for writing papers, email and internet access. I don't know about those who do not own computers, but it would be difficult for me to function if I didn't own a computer with internet access. And, this seems to be the going trend. Those who wish to succeed have to have some basic computer skills.
I see computers much the way that Richard Rodriguez sees the English language. I read Rodriguez's book, Hunger of Memory, for class. In it, Rodriguez says that it is impossible for people to succeed in America and take part in the American dream if they do not have a command of the English language. Rodriguez, for those who don't know, started speaking English in Elementary school and is an opponent to bilingual education. It's funny, because I always thought that opponents to bilingual education were racists (conservatives). But, it's hard to argue with Rodriguez. How many businesses in America are run by people who don't speak English? How many congressmen, CEOs or Doctors? Not speaking English, as pointed out by Rodriguez, is a definite handicap in America.
Like I said, this is the same way I view the internet. I've said it in class, but I lost internet access for a week while the phone company sent me a replacement modem and I nearly lost my mind. It felt god to get my email back.
Anything that familiarizes the next generation with how to navigate around the basic workings of a computer is a good thing for a classroom. When I was student teaching, I had students type up one of their papers in the computer lab. Since I know a little about word processors, I could help them out with the basics, which usually required italicizing or underlining an expletive for added emphasis. When I was in school, that sort of instruction was called "cross-curriculum" teaching, meaning it encompassed both English and computers. It was put in the same category as pointing out the Mayan counting system in math class (math/history). Nowadays, we don't even notice that division between computers and writing a paper. Heck, we probably don't notice the division between computers and daily life anymore.

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