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Archive for Tuesday, January 12, 1999

GENERATION GAP

January 12, 1999

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A new teaching technique only recognizes what most adults already know: if you need help with a computer, find a kid.

Sometimes it seems that computer skills have an inverse relationship to age. The younger you are, the more you know.

It's a little depressing to many of us in the over-40 crowd to read stories like the one in Sunday's Journal-World about computer-savvy youngsters replacing veteran teachers for a session in the computer lab with local junior high students. The session, led by a high school sophomore and a seventh-grader from Olympia, Wash., was part of a new program called "Generation Why." The program, being initiated in 48 Kansas schools uses students to help other students -- and, yes, teachers -- learn more about using technology in education.

Anyone who has watched a junior high student on a computer understands why the experts have decided to give this tactic a try. Any parent who has had to ask his child to explain what the computer is doing understands a teacher's frustration in trying to stay ahead of students at a keyboard. Young people just speak the language. Computer talk may seem like a foreign language to many adults, but it's the native tongue of most junior high youngsters.

Maybe we need to offer the teachers a little encouragement. Don't give up. You're not too old to learn and, no matter what they may tell you, your students don't know it all. Even if you can't keep up with your students on a computer, you still have a thing or two to teach them.

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