Sunday, March 1, 2009

Movie Response #4

I agree with Marissa and Jessica on this issue - high school is not simply a place to learn a skill for a job and nothing else. These schools, like Kep and Travis's, aren't high schools. They're technical schools. They don't prepare the students properly - they prepare them in only one skill. While, yes, computers are a way for disadvantaged students to break into a work environment and begin to succeed, I'm worried that with such a small skill set, these students won't continue to succeed.

We've all had students in our classes who were human calculators. Who could just reel off answers to complex math problems with ease. Or maybe they were geniuses at computers, and they were always the ones the teacher relied on to fix whatever technological problem he was having. They graduated valedictorian and went to MIT or Harvard or somewhere else impressive.

And then there's the rest of us. Math homework takes forever, it's not perfect, it's not right. And really, after basketball practice and maybe tutoring or getting coffee with friends, we were all too tired to try for hours anyway, right? But we got it done along with our other homework maybe watched House or the Office too, spent too much time on Facebook and online and went to bed. We passed the classes well enough to get here, so good job, mission accomplished. 

So, in twenty years, who's going to be the number-cruncher who sits in a cubicle and, well, crunches numbers, and who's going to be the manager, president, or CEO? (Hint: Being a CEO requires lots of different skills.) 

But I can see that, for Luisa and Kep and Travis, these skills are being taught as technical skills. They're a way for these students to enter the work force and hopefully make enough money to live comfortably, and that's a beneficial thing. I have absolutely no problem with schools like Tech High - I have no problems with schools that teach car repair or hair styling either. But they're not learning the same skill set at Tech High that students at a traditional school would. These students are not being prepared to "succeed," they're being prepared to make a living (which is fine).

I hate to say it, but it's got to start earlier than school. If students aren't fluent in computers early, it's just not going to be as naturally integrated into their schema. They'll always be behind students like Cedra, who does have an unfair advantage, and has grown up around computers. Even technology intensive schools like Tech High aren't going to make up for the natural fluency that comes with early and frequent use. I think Cedra describes it as "not being scared" of the computers.

In short - computers must be taught in schools. Must. Like the school librarian we watched in the clip in class, students must know how to use search engines efficiently, what to trust and what not to trust, how to deal with changing technology. But teaching only computers will hurt American society more than we can possibly imagine. The strength of the American education lies in showing you how to find answers, not in giving you all the answers for one skill set. The leaders of tomorrow aren't number crunchers, they're the average, middle-of-the-road, well-rounded, social student.


  1. Yes!!! It is about more than computer literacy and social isolation. It never hurts to be an exemplary student, but when life throws things at you, you can't ask a computer what to do, but rather, you need to have social skills and a wide knowledge base of both academic and common knowledge that may not lie in silicon or a textbook, and in the end, it will be the people who settled a scuffle on the soccer field, worked on the school play for eight hours a night, led the football team to victory, or were on the A riser in show choir that really gained the life experience to succeed in the work world. It is refresing to not be the only one who doesn't believe that the mac book should be the new Huck Finn, and that Windows Vista doesn't build a school house.

  2. I agree, I definately feel like the my involvement in sports, Band, Jazz band, and other activities in High school helped shape me and learn to appreciate a wide variety of things. I'm the kind of person that loves change and variety in everything I do. Once I have spent a lot of time on somthing and get good at it I get bored and find somthing else that interests me.