As a thirteen year old, I had a profound fear of computers. I’d attended Camp Chip-A-Bit at Trinity University, and aside from enjoying playing Outpost on an Apple //+, I hated programming (although I tried to do it several times).

When my father expressed his decision to buy me a computer, my mom promptly challenged him, “He’s terrible in math. He’s not going to grow up to be a programmer.” The words were true and probably provide some inkling into my long-standing dislike of math WITHOUT a computer or graphing calculator. Almost $3500 later, my Dad gifted me with an Apple //e, a dot matrix printer (Imagewriter II), VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet program, which I used to correct my mom’s checkbook error, a source of neverending pride, how petty!), and The Print Shop.

I later acquired a wide variety of software. My interest in technology came from spending time, until by the time I was 17 years old with a 2400 baud modem, I discovered the REAL value of computers beyond playing games and word processing–connecting with others I found online via computer bulletin board services (BBSs). In fact, my old home number was “494-1227” or 494-1BBS, which I took as a sign.

In 1997, Oppenheimer wrote the Computer Delusion in Atlantic Monthly. Here is my response, which I dug up today in response to a question from KG in my Abydos class…part of it is missing (the list of points) because it was garbled on the web site. Be sure to read the Todd Oppenheimer’s response at the end.

Anyone there?”
Creative Commons Copyright 1997 Miguel Guhlin

May be reproduced so long as credit is given.

“Hello, anyone there?”

These three words marked my first experience with a personal computer. Deep down, I could feel the magic. I could look into the green monochrome monitor and see a reflection of some unknown person. Years later, I know who that person was. I know from whence the magic flowed, the answer to the question I’d posed to a dumb Apple //e computer with 64K of RAM. The answer? For awhile, I thought it was the world within reach of my modem.

After carefully reading all the above points, one can come to only one conclusion: Oppenheimer spent 14 pages to say what we all know to be true.

Simply, that our humanity isn’t measured in an hourglass on the screen, but in what and how we think. It is the “think” that we want our children to learn how to do and that social process is not the province of statistical researchers but of ethnographers. If we expect our teachers to change the way they teach,
we have to change their understanding of how students learn. The world becomes more complex on its own. We still have to learn how to exist in it, but the premise underlying a good education hasn’t changed.

It remains learning how to deal with new situations, marshalling all the resources at your command, commanding those resources when appropriate and applying them in the right quantities. . .all requires our developing and self-selecting tools to match the task and using the scientific process throughout.

Do I think better when I write, or do I write better when I think? I hope, both. Thanks for reading!

Take care,

Miguel Guhlin

DISCLAIMER: Technology serves as a catalyst for change. It’s about time someone started complaining [again] that it’s what students do with the technology, not what the technology does with them that counts. Maybe, it’ll focus everyone

back on the fundamental question of “How DO students

learn? And, how does that change the way teachers

teach?” And, if you don’t agree, feel free to argue. I

won’t hold it against you–for too long. 8->


Message: “Deluded? HA!”

Written by Todd Oppenheimer on Mon Jul 7 22:54:10 1997

Miguel — thanks greatly for obviously thinking

seriously about the issues in my story. That you took

away such a number of points is gratifying to me as a

writer. (We writers are often told that readers won’t

recall much more than one main point in a story, and we

should therefore keep things simple.) Your note suggests

we can all stand to be a bit more ambitious.

-Todd Oppenheimer

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure