On Dec 18, Adam Thierer wrote an opinion piece for Forbes on the 10 Things Our Kids Will Never Worry About Thanks to the Information Revolution. Interesting, and thought provoking. Like most such lists, though, it demonstrates what I consider typical upper-middle-class blindness to the way the poorest Americans live.
Take #1, for instance.
1) Taking a typing class.
It used to be hard to learn how to type. Many people (especially men) never bothered. These days, kids teach themselves and many are experts before they’ve reached middle school. They don’t need classes to master the task.
Not universally true, at least not in this large, urban school district. While most of the schools have computer labs, many families can’t afford to buy a home computer, so their kids don’t have the opportunity to practice outside of the limited time they get in class. Some high schools and public library branches have free keyboarding classes–essential, now that most teachers no longer have time to decipher poor handwriting on top of poor spelling and grammar.
The school my recently-retired husband taught in for his last 17 years—an alternative high school within the public school district—had one computer in each classroom, and a computer lab with a dozen computers, for over 200 students. They had a few laptops that students could borrow for homework but, after a year or so of heavy daily use, most of the laptops were broken, and there was no room in the budget to get them repaired.
The other one I question is #10:
10) Being without the Internet & instant, ubiquitous connectivity.
… Today’s youth will not remember a time when they were without instant communications opportunities.
This is certainly true for suburban kids, and those from middle-class homes that can afford high-speed Internet, a WiFi router, and a laptop for each child. Those kids also have access to Starbucks and other upscale coffee and sandwich shops that offer free WiFi. Not so, some of the inner city kids. Starbucks and Panera and other such places don’t open stores in poor inner city neighborhoods. Public library branches have limited hours and not nearly enough computers to service all the kids who need them.
I’d love to see our government support education, especially technology in education, so that Mr. Thierer’s article could be 100% true. Given the way things are going, though, I don’t expect to see it any time soon.