“Oh, I’m not a computer person.”

I’m not a real fan of math. I blame a grade five teacher that used competitive multiplication games that humiliated me. Before that, I liked math. Ever since I’ve felt that I have some sort of a math disease. I was so happy when I discovered the word “dyscalculia” in teacher’s college. That’s what I have! My brain is just not able to process math…

Bollocks! I’m bad at math because I fear it. It has nothing to do with the cells in my brain. If I train my brain with more mathematical thinking, I’ll get better at it, just as it is with most things. Half the population wasn’t just born with the inability to do math. “Oh, I’m not a math person.” What you mean is, you don’t enjoy math, you’re scared of it, and you haven’t worked at it enough.

I see strong parallels to using technology. I hear the same,“Oh, I’m not a computer person.” As an eLearning Contact in a small school board, it’s part of my job to try to convince teachers to use more technology in their classrooms, so I encounter this a fair amount.

It seems to be that some people believe that their body emanates some kind of negative electrical impulse that causes computer technology to go wrong. “That stuff never works for me.” “I don’t want the hassle.” “I can’t be bothered.” Well of course you’re not going to be a pro if you continually avoid using it because you feel you’re not good at it.

The truth is, just like math, if they work on it, they can master it. And they’ll probably discover that it’s not all that hard. People aren’t born being bad at computers; it’s just a learned skill. We just need to not fear it. Fortunately, the computer user-experience has come a long way (lead mostly by web-applications, in my opinion). It’s much less likely that people will ‘break’ something in the computer by exploring. What one needs, however, is merely the courage to explore. There is so much that technology can do to make your life easier, more efficient and, in the case of teaching, can help increase student learning. It’s worth it; it’s necessary.

Take heart, computer fearers; it won’t hurt you. Muster up the courage to explore and learn; it’ll get better.

(Fortunately for me, my courage in embracing technology has mitigated the damage caused by my fear of math!)

(Photo Credit: Computer History Museum)

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6 comments

  1. evathompson · February 8, 2014

    I was one of those, “I’m not a computer person.” I started teaching still using a calculator to do marks for report cards. One day, I blindly plunged into an elearning course, fearful. I have learned quite a lot and am now embracing technology. I still have lots and lots to learn, but now look forward to it , instead of fear it.

    • Tim Robinson · February 8, 2014

      I’m so glad you did! It seems you’re doing great! I love reading your blog. 🙂

  2. bgrasley · February 8, 2014

    Thanks, Tim. I’m a “computer person” because I enjoy using them and have spent a lot of time learning to use them well. We bought a used PC from a friend when I was 10; I was interested, so I worked at using it well. That’s a couple of decades ago, so I have a lot of experience that is certainly helpful.
    But it’s not magic; it’s time and effort. And today, for teachers especially, it’s essential.
    And I wrote some thoughts about this a while ago, if you’re interested:
    https://bgrasley.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/what-should-the-average-person-know-about-computers/

    • Tim Robinson · February 8, 2014

      Thanks Brandon. That blog post of yours actually slipped past me. I usually read them, I swear! 🙂 Poignant comparison with cars. Owning a VW bus has certainly provided me with insight into my lack of understanding of automobiles. I just ordered the classic “How to keep your VW alive” manual for idiots (written before the “Idiot” manuals were around). So I’m trying to apply this same way of thinking to other areas. Some things have to be a lot easier than I think they are. I’m going to change the oil myself on that sucker this summer. Start small. 🙂

  3. anellop · February 9, 2014

    Great post Tim. This is exactly what the problem is.
    There’s a comfort level that people just don’t want to give up, whether it’s a teacher or people responsible for leading change. The challenge is making these people aware that they need to burst out of their bubbles and to stay current with pedagogy and technological skills needed for or students today.
    Some days I just want to forward them articles (one of the many I come across daily) that show how important this change is needed. Or better yet, ask them to start blogging or following blogs like this.

    • Tim Robinson · February 10, 2014

      I think at least with ed-tech, it’s not just a new layer of work that teachers need to add on, it has some value return to the teacher. There’s a lot of the tech that can make regular classroom teaching easier and free up time. There’s the odd new headache involved, sure, but overall we can make their teaching lives better.

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