Thursday, June 18, 2009

the computer class

So today was my first day co-teaching a computer class at the Senior Center (there were 2 of us, thank God.) The class consisted of 9 senior students ranging in age from the mid 70's to early 90's. I know this because the seniors offered this information freely, with much pride in fact. Originally the plan was to show them how to use Microsoft Outlook. We quickly realized that we needed to move onto plan b since about half of them had never even used a computer before. So the lesson went something like this, "this is your keyboard, this is your screen, this is your mouse, oh no don't worry it isn't a live mouse- well, it's just a silly term used in computer lingo - and no the cord is not his tail, but gee, that sort of makes sense now doesn't it - My! My! you are quite clever now aren't you?!?!"

It's amazing how much we, the everyday computer users, take for granted. For instance, when we move our mouse or finger around the touch pad, we don't think twice about an arrow symbol, a little pointy hand, a solid line with the little "t" in the middle or a blinking cursor. We just know what each little thing does without giving it a second thought. So now try explaining those simple, basic symbols to a 90 year old - who has never even navigated a computer before. And THEN try to explain the internet and all of its vastness and capabilities to someone who's used to absorbing knowledge through a card catalogue at the library. It was mind boggling for me so I can only imagine what it was like for them.

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