Friday, November 12, 2010

Rich Goggles

I went to a professional development over the summer for English teachers. Another teacher from my school and I attended a session on using video trailers for books. I really liked the idea and the examples they had. I raised my hand and asked "How many days does this take in the computer lab?"

"Oh, you can just have them do this for homework. I give them a couple weeks to work on it," the teacher leading the session replied.

"Really? Most of our kids don't have computers or internet access at home."

"Oh no. They pretty much all have computers nowadays," she said.

"No really. They don't have computers," I said a bit frustrated.

She sighed and said with some exasperation, "Well, if they really don't have computers then they could always go to the library." And with that, she moved on to the next person. My coworker and I were miffed. This teacher taught at Manual. She can expect that level of homework from her students. We can't.

There are several things wrong with what this teacher implied. First, no, not all of our students have computers. Most of them don't. A freakish majority who have computers do not have access to the internet, making anything more than typing a paper impossible. Still more have out of date software or completely lack the programs to create PowerPoint presentations and videos.

Now let's move onto this whole concept of "Well, they can just go to the library." At the library, you are allowed an hour a day on the computers and you have to wait in line. Assuming this takes more than a couple hours, this kid has to get to the library three or four times, or more.

How do they get to the library? If they don't have a computer, you can guess that their parent or guardian works such hours that they aren't available to drive them. Oh, they can just drive there by themselves, right? With what car? They don't have a computer. How can they afford car?! Oh, we have buses that run in Louisville! The TARC will surely take them to the library, right?

I mean, it will, but it's not free and it has it's own schedule. Depending on where the kid lives and when they go, this could be a several hour long adventure. Don't forget that they probably have a job that they need to get to as well.

This is assuming that your computer-less student is super self motivated and cares enough about their grade to do this assignment. Oh yeah, and they know how to use this program, how to find free music and how to find free photos to use. And then they can figure out how to save the file to be able to turn it in on a flashdrive that they don't have.

This teacher had a case of the Rich Goggles. She's rich. Her kids are largely affluent students, or students motivated enough to overcome any financial problems they may face. She does not have to take poverty into account. She can wear her Rich Goggles and it won't affect her students.

I can't wear Rich Goggles. I have to plan for the fact that my students may not be able to do projects like this outside of school.

The project takes one week of lab time to complete. Add this to the fact that our school is now listed as failing, and spending a week in the lab for a "fun" project will leave people asking me why I'm "wasting" time when I should be preparing for testing. We can't let those poor kids have any fun. They need to be working all the time instead of enjoying their education.

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