There’s an old axiom that when the teacher is ready the pupil or pupils will present themselves. Today at work I sat down in our high school library to install software on a new MacBook. A student next to me had an older Dell Inspiron 1100 and I asked him if it was his and how much he’d paid for it. He said he traded an XBox 360 for it. He was running Windows 2000 and was using Microsoft Write to do some word processing. I told him about Software for Starving Students and how I could give him a CD-ROM that had 57 open source programs on it that would help him use a better word processor like Open Office. He seemed somewhat indifferent. Just then some other young boys began to congregate around me and ask questions about the MacBook. They were seventh graders. One of them said, “you’re good with computers aren’t you, Mr. Watkins.” They asked me about the Mac and I told them about another new computer that would more easily fit their budget. I told them about the Asus EeePC. One of them said, “what kind of computer do you use?” I said, I use one that runs Ubuntu Linux. One said, “What’s that?” I said, it’s a free operating system. Why pay money which is in short supply on an operating system and programs if you can get one for free. I told them that I liked spending my money on food and cookies in particular. That seemed to please them.
One of them noted the bluetooth headset in my right ear and asked, “What the bluetooth for?” I told him it connected to my cell phone on my hip. He wanted to know what kind of a cell phone I carried. I showed him my Blackberry 8703. He said, “that’s sweet.” They showed me their phones too and we had a good discussion on the relative merits of cell phones, text messaging and internet access via cell phones. I told them I thought the Asus EeePC was sweeter than the Blackberry. I told them it was less expensive and had more utility and that it was almost the same size as a Sony PlayStation.
The bell rang and it was time for them to leave. I felt a tinge of sadness as they departed. This impomptu class had been enjoyable. I love children and learning. This morning we were all teachers and all learners. That’s the way it ought to be.