Moral Degradation

While Kate was working hard in the Bukoba kindergarten classes, I had more opportunity for down time in the computer classes. While it turns out the Kagera region has relatively steady electric supplies compared to the rest of Tanzania, it was inevitable that the power would fail during classes. Sometimes for the entire class, but usually less.

What to do, what to do… If I were the Tanzania teacher, I’d be prepared to do some write and copy on the blackboard—I’m guessing Kate talked about this archaic “teaching” method. Instead, I remember seeing some bullet points in the syllabus. We do some Q & A.

What are the differences between Man and Machine?
Machine can do a task much faster than man.
Man can do many different tasks.
Machine never gets tired.

What are three types of Calculator?
Abacus
Basic Calculator
Scientific Calculator

What are disadvantages of Computer?
Computer needs many resources.
Computer wastes time.
Computer ruins eyesight.

The final question was for the fourth-grade class. One boy still had his hand up, “Ok, what’s one more disadvantage of computers?” The boy, “Computer causes moral degradation.” I worked very hard not to laugh,“Excellent work class.”

I skipped the questions about DOS and Windows 3.1, neither of which are still used in Tanzania, yet remain on the standardized tests. The students are chalk full with computer terminology, some I didn’t even know, but there’s no meaning to the words. They’d seen a floppy disk before, and they knew the word “floppy disk”, but they couldn’t tell me when I held one in my hand. “Double-click” and “drag” were new to them, but they already knew about the Arithmetic Logic Unit.

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