Squeakfest 2009 Kids Workshop: "Lessons Learned From A Child"
by Cherry Withers (eKindling)
Truth be told, despite the barriers of my well cultivated ego, children have a way of making you realize how little you know. They don’t even have to do anything but be themselves and ask the questions an adult would be afraid to give voice to.
When Tim Falconer stressed on the first day that an adult partner sit with a child in order to learn the program, I thought that this didn't apply to me. I used to be an electrical engineer. It shouldn’t be THAT hard … right?
The object of the three-day workshop was simple enough: learn the basics of Squeak/Etoys using the XO and then have us (the children and adults) build a maze using the concepts we learned. Well, I knew I was in trouble when my little object wouldn’t go around the obstacle course I made. nine-year old Abigail (better known as TurkeyJay) sensed my frustration and looked over at my computer and declared, “You should try a different turn value.” Adding insult to injury, she said, “You can always ask me if you need help.”
One saving grace for my bruised ego was the instructor's willingness to admit mistakes of his own. He stressed early on that "mistakes are allowed and are essential to learn the program.” True enough, mistakes are necessary in order for a child to learn. I watched TurkeyJay struggle through a difficult task and saw her triumphant smile when she finally got things to work.
Althea patiently waits for Yoshiki to reach the end of the maze she created. Any day now, Yoshiki!
As I looked around the room, I saw how different this class was from what I grew up with in the Philippines. I was reminded of a teacher who told us to sit with our backs straight and hands folded on our tables for a full hour while she talked about the history of the Bataan Death March. Looking around Tim’s class, I saw a group of fully engaged children. The room was noisy and filled with kids’ chatter. I’m sure my old history teacher would have been horrified at the thought of teaching such a noisy class.