soxteaching: chem, baseball, stories
Welcome to a conversation that has been part of my life for over 30 years. The first computer over which I had the sole use was an IBM PC Jr, a hand-me-down of sorts that my father passed along to me for use during college. It was slow, had no permanent memory (outside of the floppy disks) and relied on DOS commands to operate. It’s main role in my life was to replace the typewriter that I loathed, since I never learned how to type properly, and allowed me to edit my work before printing. By 2010 standards, this could do about as much as a phone text messaging feature. Of course, I loved it, for one simple reason: it was mine and I was intent on bending this to my will.
This machine taught me a crucial lesson: the usefulness of a computer is directly related to the amount of patience I am willing to employ in guiding it on its way. The advantage of starting here is that I never expected the device to do more than it could and it was my job to coax every last bit of its capabilities. I was driven to figure out a way to use its strengths to assist my goals and not the reverse. Think about it: how often are we frustrated by situations where we wish a computer could do more? How often do we blame the limitations of a computer on the interruption of our classes?
Let’s be honest here, the computer is not like a car where you buy it, take the keys, get inside and drive home. The amount of knowledge you need to be successful to operate a car is minimal, and once acquired, the knowledge transfers readily to every other one. Computers SHOULD be like this. Computers ARE NOT like this… yet. I often think about how much computing knowledge I need to know to be successful in the classroom and perhaps I am more successful BECAUSE I accept this fact.