Many of you know that I'm the mother of three, very bright, "equally ADHD as their mother" children. As I've been tasked with a number of interesting challenges with both RMOUG's and ODTUG's WIT, (Women in Technology) events, I've started to investigate how, no matter what we do for women today, unless we start focusing on the women of tomorrow, we are lost.
I spent some time the last couple weeks investigating the offerings by my local school districts for technical education and am alarmed for both genders. There are "Technology Plan Templates" that detail out the dismal specifications of what hardware will be provided in the classroom, but no mention of what to attain with it. No one lists out what educational goals, what students hoped to achieve with the said technical hardware.
Now what were these marvel in educational opportunities offered in the way of software?
- Windows XP.
- Tutorials on how to use a USB flash drive.
- How to "Navigate the network"
The labs were beginning classes in Microsoft Office and how to use email. What kid, by the time they are in mid-elementary, lack knowledge in9 basic tasks in MS Office??
I looked on the clubs link, as I remember computer and programming were often found in clubs, along with classes, in my high school. This was what is now offered:
I assumed the technical classes had to be missing from the website, (I know, seemed like an oxy-moron to me, too, but I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt.... :)) so I called the school. I was politely informed that all classes for any student that are interested in technical educatiin are offered at Bollman Technical Education Center.
I remember this school, as it was what was recommended to my oldest when he was having challenges that were administration in nature, but had been classified by the school as "behavioral". If this doesn't concern you right off, we'll discuss it here in a minute, but first I wanted to make sure that there hadn't been a "revamp" of the school.
No, Bollman is still considered a school that "benefits the student who is more productive when doing than learning in a more traditional academic setting."
I was less than star-struckwhen I looked at their technical career programs:
Auto technology? Do we really even have to discuss this one?
I was more pleased by the clubs, but the ones that are heading it up are often the same teachers that are failing the students in their primary schools! I noted the names of three teachers that aren't even technical in the three clubs that are mentioned in the image below!
One of the teachers listed as one of the sponsors teaches at my children's high school and we've discussed her "ongoing challenges grasping today's technology". Having some of these folks heading up tech clubs seems no better than the BBC show, "The IT Crowd" character, non-technical Jen Barber's hilarious attempt at heading up IT, which is one of the consistent comedic story lines of the show. This is what we have directing tomorrow's technical minds?
Now we're going to get into the down and dirty. This school is an "alternative" school. This is the school that they send the students that are not succeeding in standard, public schools. What does this say about the future of technology in general? What does this say for the number of folks in the industry that have a story similar to mine that started out in a VERY different field than the one they are highly successful in because they were unaware that the opportunity was even out there for them?
So, here's where I'm at- if the schools are going to continue to fail both genders in the technical arena, maybe this is a better alternative: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506466/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-ethiopian-children-teach-themselves/