A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, February 22, 2008

Generation Tech: Students teach elders a thing or two

A group of middle schoolers in Missouri have started volunteering as technological tutors for the older adults in their community who may feel cowed by all the techno-babble. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
At 70 years old, Loretta Stadler is trying to understand the difference between a user name and a password. Caylen Erger, 13, is biting her lip, searching for the best way to explain it.

"You have to type in both so nobody can just sign into your e-mail and read it," Caylen says.

"Oh," says Stadler, of the Affton area, her eyes beaming behind her bifocals as if a light just went on behind them.

Similar scenarios are playing out at several computer terminals around them Monday in the library of Seckman Middle School in the Fox School District. For an hour every month since December, students have invited technologically challenged adults to come in for lessons on how to use their latest gadgets.

For some, like Stadler, it's learning to do more than play solitaire on her computer.

For others, it's learning to use their cell phones, satellite TV boxes, DVD players, VCRs and GPS systems.

Patience in teaching seems to have come naturally to the children, said Gina Beuhner, 33, a math teacher and adviser to the program.

"I'm a nervous wreck over here," says Barb Wiethuchter, 67, of Arnold. "Or maybe I'm just a wreck."

"That's OK," replies Carlie Firestein, 14, of Imperial. "There is plenty of things I don't know how to do."

Carlie, along with Caleb Doyle and Alex Baum, all 14, came up with the idea of offering the free technology consulting hour. They dubbed the effort, Project TEAM, or Teens Educating Adults on Modern Technology.

"I realized there was a need to strengthen the bond between my generation and the older folks, and what better way than to teach them something we know a lot about," Caleb said.

What a wonderful idea that could be duplicated anywhere. As more school districts require community service hours as graduation requirements, we teachers often see kids claim that helping mom at work or cutting their own grass should qualify. Here's an example of true service to the community, and it seems pretty simple to set up.

Kudos to these kids and their teachers, not to mention the school district for giving access to their computers to community members.

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At 2/22/08, 1:18 PM, Anonymous yo miss!, formerly in bushwick said...

A related idea is that of having tech-savvy kids volunteer in their schools to help with routine maintenance and repair of computers and other technological devices. I've read about that being quite successful. Techie kids, sometimes labeled as "nerdy" outcasts, turn their knowledge into a cool, useful commodity, while the school saves money and time. Everyone wins. :)

At 2/22/08, 3:51 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Another excellent idea!


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