The HeliOS Project provided a computer for a family with 3 kids ranging in age from 6 - 9 years old.
He said that we had wasted a computer on kids that were far too young to either appreciate the technology or use it efficiently. I don't only think he is wrong...
I know he is.
I didn't argue the point with him...he's not an educator nor is he vaguely involved in technology via his profession. I wasn't nearly as concerned about his criticism as I was about his attitude.
I think that exposing a child to technology should be done as soon as there is a cognizant communication ability between child and parent.
I only have emperical data to support my point.
When I decided that I wanted to live and work in the computer technology field, I was fairly late to the game...somewhere around 2002. Of course, I began my self-education on a Windows machine and as I believe most people should, I evolved to learn outside of my knowledge base. I began to explore Linux.
My daughter Amanda Brooke was 2 when she insisted in being lifted to my knee as I worked at a DOS prompt. We would take breaks intermittently to play pinball games and later, Childsplay and an occasional game of Frozen Bubble or Planet Penguin Racer. We did this for at least two hours a night, 7 nights a week and we did it for years.
She squealed with delight every time tux "ate" a fish and made the popping sound.
I didn't "push" my daughter into tech, math or science...but you would have a difficult time convincing me that early exposure to technology didn't have a lot to do with it.
In fact...I don't think anyone could.
And there isn't a week that goes by that we don't hear from parents or guardians...receiving reports on how grades have improved. Not only grades, but whole attitudes about school and education. In a few cases, we have seen chronic truants at the middle school or high school level begin to take their studies more seriously.
I know as well as you do that many of the kids we give computers to more than likely use them for gaming and social activity....far more than they use them for academic pursuit.
We are dealing with pre-teen and teen kids after all.
But the fact remains that they now have the tools.
"You are going to be the first person to walk on Mars."
I point to another and state:
"You are going to discover an herbal compound that cures diabetes."
And to a third child I point and say:
"You are going to invent the nano technology that reverses blindness."
Then I make sure that they understand one thing. Unless they embrace and learn about the machines in front of them, none of that is likely to happen.
And trust me...her intelligence is not inherited...at least not from my side.
But I will tell you this. She is being courted heavily by several major universities. I believe she is leaning hard toward Rice.
They want her to study either sustained energy or nuclear engineering.
While I write this, the memory wraps itself warmly around me...
The weight on my knee and the giggles as tux pops another fish.