Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Man Behind the Times

As many of you may know, I primarily teach GED classes for a living.  This past week in one of my classes, I brought two laptops to the class so that two of my students could work on GED questions and problems by using the GED software on the laptops.  One of my students has used this program many times.  To my surprise, the other student had never even used a laptop, or any computer, before.  He said the only technology of any consequence he used was a cell phone that made and received phone calls and texted messages.  He was very content not to use technology in his work.  He was used to doing things that way and did not see a reason to change.  I encouraged him to learn how to use the technology of the day because it can make him more productive.  He finally said that the reason he did not use technology was that he had seen people become addicted to technology, and he did not want that to happen to him.

It has been a while since I have taught anyone how to use a computer.  Kids these days seem to know how to use technology from the time they are born.  I enjoyed showing my GED student how to use the cursor to navigate around the laptop.  I am not sure he will remember everything I told him, but he said he enjoyed working on the laptop.  He also said he wanted to continue working on the laptop, and I said I would start bringing the laptop to class all the time for him to work on.  Now that I think back on it, I was being like a drug pusher when I told my student how productive he can be using technology, and I am enabling him by bringing the laptop to class all the time.  I have put him on the path of addiction, addiction to technology.  Yes, technology can be addictive.  I even wrote a blog post this summer about my addiction to my smartphone.  There is both a good side and bad side to just about anything.  I really don't think my student will become addicted to technology, if nothing else because he is aware of the danger.  We all have to be aware of the danger.

My student being behind the times and not using technology sure blew apart one of my assumptions about people.  I thought everyone knows their way around a computer.  Even if you don't have a computer, you should be exposed to computers via school or work.  However, my student comes from another country.  Perhaps his family did not have the means to get a computer.  Perhaps the schools he went to did not have computers.  If I remember correctly, I don't think he finished 9th grade.  Perhaps he had jobs that did not use computers.  Not everyone has been raised in the environment we have in the United States, and it is not the same environment everywhere in this country.  You just can't assume everyone has the same knowledge base.  I found that out this week, for sure.

I even found out last night that I am not up to speed on akk technology subjects.  I had heard about QR codes, but I did not realize how much information they contain and how many uses there are for them.  I just thought they are another version of the barcode that we find on all the items we buy.  Not so.  They can contain contact information.  They can open up a web site for you on your smartphone.  I am sure there are other uses for QR codes.  Our knowledge base is always evolving.  If your knowledge base is not evolving, you are not learning.  If you are not learning, then you must be dead.  We are all learning something everyday no matter if we realize it or not.


Dan Verner said...

Very thoughtful and extremely well written, Brother Brad. Thank you for this important consideration of something that affects us all.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Brad, I was really surprised to hear one of my international students say he'd never used a computer. He's about my age and has been in the country awhile and has kids, so I assumed he must have run into technology other than cell phones at some time or other. What's interesting is this guy seems to have cultivated a wide variety of skills and talents that he might not have, had he become addicted to technology.

You are way ahead of me with technology. My phone isn't smart, I don't have a kindle or nook, I've played with my husband's iPad only once or twice (and that was just for Scrabble), I struggle using the remote to our flat screen television...

However, I'm not as bad as my mother, who refuses even to email. She is positively phobic--which makes me wonder how many of our students actually avoid the computer because they are afraid they won't be able to learn how to use it or are embarrassed because they believe they should already know how to use it.