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Sunday, September 17, 2006

One Laptop Per Child - So Much to Ponder

The $100 Laptop.

One Laptop Per Child
Cute machine! A prototype from "One Laptop Per Child" Project

Julie at DeafDC Blog writes on the subject of One Laptop Per Child… Possible? The cultural questions she poses are among the first things I pondered when I first found information about the project at MIT site last year. Deafness & disability combined with a fascination with science, technology and fondness for animals created ready misunderstanding and rifts where my own family did not always understand nor tolerate my differences in whatever they felt was the 'norm'. It was easier for me to focus on things with which I could be skillful and truly it was the only way to go because as a handicapped child, things others took for granted were difficult for me and often others had no point of reference for understanding.

Browsing and reading from a junior encyclopedia or piles of National Geographic magazines was far more interesting to me than watching TV with my mother and siblings when I could not always hear well enough to understand the words spoken on the programs. My mother's frustration with my differences when I was in grade school included the fact that at one point, I had read every single horse story available at the school library during one of the genre binges I entertained at the time - My instructor had no idea what grief this would cause me in my family when she shared my delight in reading with my parents at one PTA. My father was delighted, but I could not understand why that was such a problem for her -- I had the longest list of 'books I read' among my classmates. :D My sibs didn't have much interest in reading and that just seemed more 'normal' to her. :)

So it is with that background, I wonder about conflict within families, even if the conflict has something to do with better education. There are cultures where females are just not expected to expand their worlds and when they do, they become alienated. Children are quick studies in accepting and seeking new technology, but how will it affect their relationships with their families in third world countries? Will the kids be safe with this technology, could something happen to them if they are alone with one of these machines and another person wants it? It's very easy for me to imagine how technology or pursuit of it could backfire in some ways, while on the other hand there are benefits and advancements to be had.

Will it be welcome? You can find stories such as this one in India providing another aspect of food for thought.

Parents usually are role models and provide guidance to their kids, maybe more so in some cultures than they are in some modern cultures. Kids that understand things far beyond their parents at much younger ages may lose the guidance that they need due to a widening communication and cultural gap between the kids and parents. Painful memories... Parents that didn't get an opportunity at a good education are not always supportive of the achievements of their children when they don't understand those things.

Anyway, the technology is promising. Problems to come?
For now, it's all speculation.

One Laptop Per Child
The first prototype I saw last year

One Laptop Per Child
Another prototype

I think education is a good thing and I hope that in communities receptive to the "One Laptop Per Child" program, that great advancements can be made by first opening up the minds and curiosity of those who will benefit most.

To read more about the project, to see a FAQ and more images, go here to laptop.org

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/17/2006 09:36:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

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