Thursday, March 17, 2011

How do households manage without a computer nowadays?

This is NOT our study!
We used to have two computers in this house. Actually, let me restate that; we used to have one computer and a boat anchor in this house. Then the boat anchor up and died on us, so now we have one computer. I consider us to be quite fortunate to have this one computer, I know many families don't have any computer. This makes me wonder how they manage, though.

For the final quarter of last year I put a ban on our children using my computer because their father's computer had died as a result of a deadly virus collected online, and I was in the final throws of finishing my thesis (I'd already had one PC and one laptop die during the course of the degree and was quite paranoid about this one solitary remaining computer) and couldn't risk losing all my data and my only workhorse.

Since getting my results, I have allowed them back on my computer for homework research and to do Mathletics. There have been some disgruntled grumblings from at least one of their teachers over the lack of their Mathletics participation last year, and their lack of access to a computer for projects sent home overnight as well, and this has me wondering how families with children in formal schooling cope without a computer.

Dave also, on a daily basis, needs access to the computer to check for job vacancies, send off job applications and to check his email in case he is asked to come in for an interview.

It seems this society very much expects every family to have a computer and internet connection.

Erik came home yesterday and told me the school is setting up a social network for the students to access homework, chat to each other about schoolwork and submit schoolwork (we haven't heard anything from the school itself and Erik sometimes gets the wrong end of the stick, so we'll see to what extent this is all true). I understand how this might inspire children to do homework, and how this can mean children don't have to miss out on homework if they are away - I'm sure they'll love that - but really, I don't want my children online that much.

As it is, Erik seems to need to be on Mathletics every day. Luey and Bryn also have Mathletics accounts and when I looked at Bryn's there was five sets of tasks, ending in a test for each set, which seems to be organised in such a way as to do one set per school day (possibly I'm misunderstanding this, it may not be strictly required, simply encouraged).

What do families who don't have computers or internet access do?

If so much homework is being done on a computer, what happens to "on paper" practice? I noticed when Erik was doing division and multiplication of large sets of numbers, he was trying to do it in his head because Mathletics doesn't allow for "working it out" within their program. This was counterproductive to Erik building maths self-esteem because he was forcing himself to guess the totals - and often guessing them incorrectly. Yet the site doesn't encourage children to work the sums out on paper and then enter the totals online.

Writing up assignments on the computer and printing them out does not exercise handwriting - and we still have a great need for legible writing in society today (unless your an MD, of course).

If I allowed the children on the computer each day to do one set of Mathletics each, they'd each be online for up to 45 minutes (this is how long it took Bryn to work through one set today). With research for other projects, or typing up projects, I can see the entire after-school-until-bedtime period being about fighting over our only computer.

Are we supposed to have several computers in the house? Is that what other people do? Between Dave looking for work and sending of applications (which seems to take him hours) and the boys needing to so much online homework, I'm really not getting much time to settle into any kind of writing. I can't see how other families without a computer or internet access manage in this day and age?

1 comment:

ryivhnn said...

Looks like my study, but not so many computers in one space ;)

Perhaps you need to practice your handwriting to get any writing done :P

Seriously, I don't think some places consider logistics.

Teenagers and the failing parent...