Computers in the Schools

Attention Step

Picture this: A kid goes through his childhood, never having access to a computer, or very little access to a computer. He never has the chance to learn anything about computers; how they work, what they are used for, any of the advantages of them. How well do you think this kid is going to do when he gets out of school, out on his own... ready for his own life.. his own job. When this kid goes out to find a job, he is going to have problems simply because he hasn't had the opportunity to learn about or how to use computers.

Almost every job in the future is going to require computer knowledge. This future is a lot closer than many people think. Already, about three fourths of the jobs available require some computer knowledge. More and more jobs will continue requiring at least some computer knowledge until every job requires it.

I have two sisters that are younger than me, 11 and 13. They have had access to a computer for 5 years now, and they are learning a lot from it. I help a lot of other people who have access to the Internet learn more about computers also, on-line. I help all ages, from about 10 years old to adults. This has shown me how important it is for kids to learn about computers at an early age. I have spent a lot of time and done some serious research into this subject. I have also completed a survey at my school to find out how many kids had computers at home and how they felt about computers in general. Along with the survey, I did several interview with people on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). I found out what kids think about computers and the future, and what adults think about kids learning computers. Finally, I also researched the topic of education and computers both in the libraries and on the Internet.

Today, I will prove that there is not enough emphasis on educating children at an early age about computers.

The government says it is doing this and that for education, but one thing it is skipping is the importance of teaching the children about computers. The government, along with parents, teachers, and anyone else who knows about computers, need to do everything they can to help educate the children. There should be more computers in the schools, more classes for both children and adults to learn about computers, and a lot of adult encouragement.

Need Step

Schools need to have ample computers available for kids at an early age. Right now there is only about 1 computer for every 10 kids in many schools and even fewer in some schools. To help teach the children about computers, there needs to be classes for adults to learn about computers also, especially parents. If a parent knows computers, it encourages the children to learn about them also. Finally, anyone who already knows about computers needs to help educate everyone else on how to use them. The more people who will help teach, the more people that can be taught.

Satisfaction Step

In the survey I did at my school, I found out only about half of the kids had a computer at home. People I have talked to on the Internet have also said that is about the same for their areas. This means that the schools need to have more computers available for the students and allow them all, especially the elementary age children, more time to play/learn on them. Right now at most schools, including my old school, the elementary age children are only getting about 1/2 hour a week to learn about computers in school. In this 1/2 hour, the kids have, at a lot of schools, they have to share the computer with at least one other kid. This means that each one doesn't even get 1/2 hour a week to learn about computers.

Although this 1/2 hour is a start, it isn't nearly enough time for them to learn much of anything about the computer itself. Schools need to start allowing these students to work on the computers a couple times a week, and for longer periods of time. Math, Science, English, all of those and more are taught on a daily basis. As important as computers are becoming, why shouldn't computers be taught in the same way?

Teaching children early is important. To show why this is important, a good friend on IRC, who goes by the nick of LadyBear, told me: "When I was 4 I could speak Spanish fluently but two years of Spanish in high school and I still failed both years." This shows children often learn things very fast and easily as compared to when they get older. If they continue to use what they learn, it will stick with them and just keep adding on. The reason LadyBear didn't do so well in high school even though she new Spanish as a kid, was because she didn't continue using it through her life.

In addition to teaching the children during school, there should be classes made available for adults to learn about computers also. By teaching parents about computers, the children will learn a lot from their parents simply because they look up to them. If the parents know about computers, the kids will naturally pick up on them too. This should all be provided at no cost, or very little cost. This type of program is being used in some areas, and is working great.

Also, by teaching parents about computers, they are more likely to go out and buy a computer. Why would someone go out and spend a couple thousand dollars on something they don't have any idea how to use? By educating the parents, the percentage of kids who have computers will increase. When kids have computers available to them all the time, they are going to learn more about them on there own. Then the additional school time will teach them new things to learn on there own.

The government funds a lot of the educational tools for schools, but they don't do much for the computer area. The government needs to encourage schools to teach more computer classes by providing more computers for the school and providing funding for teaching the teachers more about computers. Schools need more computers so each kid has a chance to learn, on their own, exactly how to use a computer. Although working in groups is good, if kids always work in groups, there are going to be some that don't learn much at all because they aren't as outgoing as the others. The others will do everything not allowing the others to learn along with them. Each kid needs to have time on a computer. Teachers need to always be learning about computers also. Computers change constantly, so to teach about computers, the teachers themselves need to continue learning about computers. The more educated the teacher is, the better they can teach the kids form grade school and up.

Visualization Step

Kids can do a lot if they are given the opportunity. Talking with some of my younger friends on IRC, I got some interesting stories. Out of the younger kids I talk to, from ages 10 - 20, not quite half of them have their own web pages. I am also helping a few of them learn how to make them. Kids love to learn, and they should not be deprived of that natural love.

One of the people I talk to goes by Wizzard on IRC. He is 15 and has his own web page. He has been using computers for 5 or 6 years now. He has also had a web page for only about 4 months that he does on his own. He has already gotten an award for his page too. The award, which he is very proud of, is for the "number 1 Shannon Miller page on the Internet". His site is very nice too, and it has some stuff on it that he has done, I haven't learned to do myself yet. I also asked him if he works anywhere, and he said he makes some newspaper ads, such as the graphics and the layout. At age 15, I think he is doing wonderful, and this shows how much a kid can learn. By having a computer since he was 9 or 10, he had the chance to learn all the basics while he was young and by the time he was 15, he was working for someone with his computer and maintaining an award winning web page.

Another IRC friend who goes by Laura is only 14. She is a good friend because she helped me learn a lot about the Internet when I first started last August. She also has a web page that she just started recently. Laura already works for a company called Media flow. At Media flow, she does web design and graphic work. Again, she uses the computer for a job, and she is only 14. She has also been working with computers since she was about 9. Being able to use a computer at such a young age has given her an advantage in the business world.

One final example of how young kids can learn about computers is back to LadyBear. She has a daughter named Karen. She told me: "Karen is 8 now, and she can turn on the computer, load the cd-rom, execute the program, do it for however long she wants. She can close that program down and load a new one (remove and put in a new cd if needed (reader rabbits need the cd)) and when completely done shut down the computer. Most kids her age barely know how to turn one on!!!!" She is only 8 and she can already do all of this. She has had a chance at her school to learn about computers and she has had a lot of parental encouragement. This shows what can be accomplished if we try.

People tend to think of games and talking on the IRC instead of what we learn from doing that, it is a tool we use to be creative, think, use our brains and in the process learn better ways of doing things. Reader rabbit is a learning tool, but for young kids it seems like a game, but they are learning more and faster than any one teacher can give individual time too. There are many games available for children that do just that, teach them while they have fun. Computers cannot ever replace a teacher, but could and should be a tool to help teachers teach their students. We need to help those teachers teach the children of our future in any way we can. Anything that will help, is an asset.

Action Step

Children need to start learning about computers at an early age. The best place for them to start learning is at their school. Computers need to be implemented into school curriculums just as math, science, English, and all the other regular classes are. Computers are a growing part of the world today.

For schools to be able to include computers as a regular class, they have to have enough computers for the students to benefit from them. The government needs to provide more funding for computer education in school. Computers are expensive, and schools can't buy them on their own. They need help from the government, like it is supposed to do.

Everyone who already knows about computers needs to help out by volunteering to teach children and adults about computers. By teaching both children and parents, we will be helping everyone because children often look up to their parents for support. Also, by teaching the parents, they are more likely to go out and buy a computer for the home. The parents will benefit because they can help their children learn and they will do better in the job market.

There are many things that need to be done to help prepare the children of today for the world of tomorrow. Computers are going to be a definite for everyone in the future, and it is best to start teaching them now. The younger we can teach, the better the children will understand what they are doing.

Thank you!

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