Saturday, July 19, 2014

How not to learn 'computers'


This is a snapshot from the little ones text book on 'Computers'.  Now, computers does not mean that they learn programming. They are learning, of all things, MS Word. And they are learning the theory of MS Word (if there ever can be such a thing) and then working on some lab exercises. 

Now, my take on this is that, it is practically useless. There are concepts one needs to know - and these concepts like indenting text and column breaks are supposed to be learnt when it is to be used. I really do not see the point making children learn by rote such concepts like indenting and then trying to explain it in theory. MS Word will be used by these kids in a few years from now, when they create project documents or something like that. And at that point, they will learn it. There is no dying need for children in class 4 to learn MS Word. Sure, they can play around with computers - and playing around DOES NOT mean Excel and Powerpoint (isnt that what people do in workplaces). 

If there is something to be taught, it is perhaps about a simple programming language, like Scratch that makes programming fun. The way they learn 'computers' today they will most likely grow around to hate it. 

Most likely, this is a 'sponsored program' - a software company must have sponsored it -maybe software, maybe labs - is one possibility. 
Second, the kind of money teachers are paid, it is tough for any school to get any decent programmer to teach its kids - so they go for a check in the box approach and teach MS Word and people think their children are learning something useful.
Third, limited lab time. Schools have a few machines on which each student spends perhaps half an hour a week on the lab - which is but about enough time to copy paste junk from one page to another. 
Fourth, some idiot who decided the syllabus knows MS Word and MS Excel and decided to make it a part of the curriculum.

All in all, garbage in garbage out. 

Now, the same kid with some enthusiastic parents at home will learn so much more - through programming apps, by playing around and then goes to school and learns to describe 'indenting'. This is beyond irony. It is learning to fly a kite - without ever getting close to trying and learning. 

Whatever happened to learning by doing?

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