Sunday, February 03, 2008

Virtual Charter School article and unhappy crabby people: Reprise

While I'm waiting for Oracle to call back ... a response to an editor's selection in this NYT article on virtual charter schools ...

As someone
who is required to sit in front of a computer roughly 9 hours a day, I really feel for these kids. An issue that no one talks about whether for adult workers or children is what exactly happens in this interaction between human and machine. For me personally, I find that being with a computer all day is far less stimulating mentally than being with people and having interaction. Even the physical stillness is tough, I can't imagine what it does to an energetic kid. The very act of sitting at a computer is numbing and at times I almost feel it is hypnotizing and motivation goes way down. It is really a very isolating excperience in my opinion. I personally feel it has an effect on alertness and cognition and I would love to see some studies regarding extended exposure to a computer and its effects on people and motivation. If you even take a look at the fact that a computer screen flashes imperceptively thousands of times per minute, I believe it affects a person. I observe myself that when seeking classes for professional development, it is often tough to find courses held in an actual classroom. It turns me off from these classes because guess what it is additional time spent staring at a screen in isolation. Maybe I am out in left field but this is the effect that I observe it has on me. These kids have a lifetime to be stuck at a machine in a cubicle. I would not be surprised if it negatively affects their development and learning.

— cstock21, NJ

Virtual charter school isn't like that; computer-based does not equal chained to a computer. The lessons and material come in books and boxes. Take yesterday for example;

Little Monkey had three assessments to plow through; two Math, one Language Arts. All delivered on paper, work done with a pencil and scratch paper. Work was done at the dining room table. Breaks were frequent; not as frequent as he would have liked - he is an eight-year old boy.

Older Monkey had an essay to write, due by Wednesday. He laid down the outline, organized his thoughts and he's done for the day.

He did this on a computer, sure. It's the tool he uses to write with. I used a pencil for the rough draft and a typewriter; it's all just tools.

cstock21, you're applying your own frustrations and experiences to a situation where they don't apply. Clerical work is tedious and boring; It always has been. The computer is not the tool of your oppression, the job is.
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