Not your mother’s classroom

The days without computers in the classroom were certainly different, not necessarily better.

I read last week where Olds (Alberta) College is requiring all of their students to complete an iPad game in which they open a virtual lemonade stand and gradually build it into a business empire.

Why am I surprised? Technology is spreading further and further into our lives, and most of us just take for granted that everyone is more or less at the same level.

I suppose in my day in elementary school, using a video game as a teaching aid would have been the equivalent of our French teacher hauling out the little black and white TV on a six-foot rolling stand so that we could spend part of the class watching Chez Helene (with Suzie the mouse!) It didn’t do much in the way of teaching me French, because unfortunately I can’t can’t speak it or translate it, but watching TV in the middle of class was pretty cool.

If nothing else, technology has shown us how far we’ve come and how creative we are as humans.

I remember my grade 1 teacher showing us how to dial a rotary telephone!

Yes, rotary. Rotary telephones – you can see them in antique stores now. You stuck your finger in the hole corresponding to the number you wanted to dial and pushed the dial clockwise in a circular motion. Then it made a cool clicking sound as the dial moved back into place.

In those days, the only telephone in the school was in the principal’s office. Parents called the principal if they wanted to contact their children, or vice versa.

Texting? What’s that? All of those books I had taken away from me during class because I was reading something unrelated to the subject being taught at that very moment by the teacher.

And, with all of the back to school news this week, I find there are school districts that encourage their students to bring their own wireless devices to class.

Hmmm, I guess that would be the equivalent of a pen in my days.

It’s no wonder that school libraries are looking deserted these days. It’s not that kids aren’t reading – they’re doing most of it online and in a variety of ways.

Wish I’d had that when I was in school.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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