Monday, March 2, 2009

Crossing the Divide #1

It is obvious that access to technology or expert teachers is not enough to induce knowledge or success. Externalities and personal issues are important, and one's reaction to these situations and their personal fortitude plays a key role.

Luisa spent time working at a fast food restaurant, so she could own her own computer, and for what. If she would have stayed after school and used the computers in center, she probably would be a super senior. The real issue is that she lives in such poverty that she is working full time as a high school student, which is illegal, and falling into this minimum wage dead end cycle of work screws her out of her future as it does so many like her. A part time job can be liberating and a growing experience, but it should never equal in time what one spends at school because school is a teenager's full time job. Shame on the authorities for allowing Luisa to work so many hours. The sad thing is that she worked so she could have a future, but since nobody stood up to help her and to guide her she will be lucky to have a future. What awaits this girl? A GED? A second smock? It is just sobering how any school or parent could let this happen.

On the other hand, Kep is no better off than Luisa, but he has the support of family, and the right focus that school does come first, and it is the environment of Tech and his family's support that allows him to succeed. Valedvictorian versus at the most a super senior and more likely a drop out because of a mere difference in environment.

Certainly, technology has the power to ameliorate circumstances and give kids opportunities, but what one does with opportunity is a major predictor of success. Travis is a procrastinator, so basically he has brilliance, but he lacks work ethic, and he isn't going to college. He cites financial difficulty, but I hate that excuse. There is plenty of student aid, but maybe the problem is that Travis is also good at procratinating on college applications and financial aid applications. Also, funny that Mr. Valedvictorian is attending CalTech, for I seriously wonder if these kids really know an ounce of information outside of computer programing and graphics design. It seems to me that Tech School dumbs high school down to the level of a stereotypical community college. Having little contact with books, these kids likely lack any real understanding of the origin of print culture. They probably couldn't use a reference volume if they tried. They probably have little prowess as writers outside of technical drudgery, and they probably could tell you very little about social studies, grammar, or science because you don't learn these things through playing on a computer. Basically, these kids learned a technical diploma in four years, so they at best can repeat the same thing for another two, of course with exceptions like engineering, but who thinks Kep will survive his first term paper or that he actually knows how to use a library?
Luckily, Cedra went to a high school that didn't place technical literacy before traditional academia, so she was lucky enough to learn valuable computer skills, but when she is sitting in a classroom at Brown University, it will be certain that she actually has a well rounded education that she can use outside of the computer lab. She isn't the product of some over reaching technocratic movement, but rather, she is a fully educated person.

If it isn't clear by now, I only expected Cedra to matriculate to a true University because of the merit of her technologically enhanced yet traditional education. Call me a snob, but because Cedra could probably do calculus and recite the Bill of Rights, I think she has the right literacy and proficiencies for college and life.

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