Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Henry and the Tablet

May years ago, when kids still had reading and remedial math, I met Henry. Henry was close to illiterate and his one dream in life was to become a porno star. He talked about this ambition relentlessly and it was quite difficult to keep him on task. Henry was a very good looking kid,and, to this day, I wonder if his dream came true.

Henry was not a bad kid and when an assignment interested him, he gave it his all.

One day Henry's English teacher, Ms. Innocent, asked the class to write a short story. She left the subject open as she wanted the students to be creative. Henry was creative all right. Henry wove a tale about a woman who was forced to wait home for the cable repair man. When he arrived, she seduced him and the words that followed steamed up poor Ms. Innocent's glasses. The story was complete with lots of illustrations.

Now, imagine that same assignment being given and Henry writing on a tablet that is hooked up to the computer. Imagine this happening in a room full of teenagers. The images of this are enough to make me never assign writing a short story again.

At staff development we learned how to use a tablet. When it was my turn to try it out, I wrote a math problem finding the ratio of the actual number of hours spent doing staff development to the number of hours it felt like we were doing staff development. This was not something I thought I should share with anyone but the few around me. Sure enough, I looked up and my little problem was on the big screen for all to see. Now, I am an adult, knew what I wrote was not nice and erased it quickly. I have a feeling the Henry's out there would do no such thing. This little exercise reminded me of Henry and of all the "dangers" technology hold for us.

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