Getting Technical

Posted on 22 July 2010 Thursday

I’m not a geek. I only know enough technology to do what I need to do.  I pick up a lot of ideas, concepts and short cuts and don’t always get the time to make the terms become part of my technology. It drives tech people crazy when I’m not clear and specific! It drives me crazy when I am clear and specific and sales clerks can’t see past my skin to know that I do know what I’m talking about. Combine my gorgeously etched wrinkles and other signs of aging with my beautiful Brown skin, present it to sales associates and you get very demeaning service. Cashiers will actually snatch my debit card out of my hand because they assume it will be quicker for them to push the buttons themselves.

I’d love to give the name of the store where I went earlier this week to pick up a car charger with an FM antennae for my cell phone. The item was marked one price and rang up something else. When I pointed out the discrepancy, the sales clerk got on the phone to ask another associate to check the price on the item because I had picked up the wrong item. Why wouldn’t I want this item or be sane enough to know it’s what I want? Thank goodness she didn’t give me a ‘hon’ or a ‘dear’ because if she had, I wouldn’t have left with the same sense of composure. I hate ‘hon’ and ‘dear’ and all the other terms that put me in a box which you will put on the floor and stand upon. If you don’t know my last name, ‘m’am’ will do!

So why does this fit on a blog that wants to improve literacy for teens of color? Our children need to learn the best ways to manipulate technology.  I’m asking you to re-examine how you’re teaching that tech. When you’re walking around from computer to computer, give over the shoulder directives. If you must put your hands on someone’s keyboard, make sure they’re watching you. Undo everything you’ve done and let them do it on their own. When I’m teaching in the lab, I’ll have students who already know how to do what I’m teaching to raise their hand. They then become responsible for helping students around them, but they are told not to touch their classmate’s keyboard. Don’t let these lessons just be tech lessons: let them be 21st century lessons by teaching students how to function independently while working collaboratively. Let’s empower our students!

As long as clerks keep snatching cards out of people’s hands, they’ll never learn how to do it on their own, even if they’re old.