I love this short film

I love this video (from code.org). It reminds me of the good ol’ days, when I was a tech facilitator at the “old” West Rowan Middle School. We had a computer lab with 14 Apple IIe computers. The best thing about the IIe is that, unlike my Apple II Plus at home, it had a shift key and upper and lower case!

We had a limited amount of software. A word processor. Oregon Trail, and a couple of other games.

And we had Logo, an awesome computer language that involved a turtle that could do anything you wanted it to do. I learned it along with the kids. It was a rare moment in my teaching career in which I learned more from them — about the actual content — than they learned from me. It was a lot of fun and we did some amazing stuff.

I remember working with the kids, building a program in which the turtle created a city full of sky scrapers and then, well (this is not politically correct) blew it up.

In those days, we had no curriculum for computers, so it was wide open. Those were the best moments, when we didn’t know anything and were learning together. So often, the teacher is expected to know more than the students, which limits what the students can learn (only what the teacher knows).

A few years later, everything shifted to teaching with computers, using software — in some cases making the computer into a fancy set of flash cards.

As the curriculum became more sophisticated, it seemed programming was left out. Or maybe it shifted to high school. I spent my first two years teaching high school English and 22 as a tech facilitator in middle and elementary — and kids didn’t get much programming there. By the time I left, it was all about making the computer simulate a standardized test — a different kind of education than the kind suggested by the people in this short film.

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