As I said in my “Skifoot and She” posts, most students with whom I dealt over the years were average. However, I was challenged often by many whose natural abilities far exceeded mine. But in my defense, like recognizing a good ‘gotcha’ I was not intimidated by or rejecting of young talent.
Emerging computer technology in the mid-1980s was a challenge to many teachers. My having some operational experience with 1960s military versions I had somewhat of an advantage but that’s another story.
I took a computer programing class and put what I learned to use. I wrote a 200-line program in BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) on an Apple II and adapted it for Atari and Heathkit computers. Math anxiety woodshop students entered data to determine the number of board feet1surface area in a project. Knowing the board feet was necessary for calculating the cost of a project.
Classroom trials of the program were satisfying so I developed a volume calculating program. Both programs were published in the vocational education journal School Shop.
I was comfortable with telling myself, “I’m keeping up with the techno-geeks.”
A technology ‘gotcha’ came into my life when a freshman student tried the program and said something like, “Mr. Benson, I believe I can make this work faster and appear better on the screen.” I took that as a challenge and gave him my raw data and the programs I’d written.
The next day he presented me with what he said he could do.2Wish I’d saved a copy of his work for comparison to mine.
I decided to be a computer user and let the younger and faster be the developers.