Yesterday was a lovely day in the Children’s Home. From early afternoon we experienced working with Sugar, the XO and Etoys with children of different ages from 8 to 15 years old, using different approaches according to the age.
The goal of this workshop was to identify which activities would want to do the kids, showing them different proposals, ranging from school activities with Etoys to create a website by themselves to connect their future blogs.
In a talk, i gave a glimpse of the possibilities that gives us the Internet through websites and blogs. Then, the work was focused on exploration, principally on Sugar and Etoys.
What we did was have a base Etoys activity to work, a story with characters, drawings, games and animated elements, that they could explore, modify and do whatever they feel. The most significant changes in this exploration were the drawings and also the change of the texts to create their own stories. In my opinion, their first contact with Etoys (and in many cases a computer) was very positive, without any fear, especially the youngest that made many changes to the baseline activity.
So for the next week we have a concrete plan to work: do their homework with Etoys and if possible, carry the work forward to their school, so everyone can see the work done by the kids. The idea is to start with the work of stories. Through each story, we can embed photos, videos, pictures, text, animated characters, and even games, to simulate a more entertaining and creative homework by developing other skills such as logical thinking, team work, organization, design, planning, etc.
Another idea, that in fact is an idea that appeared in the list of OLPC – Sur (where i also want to share the work done) is the simulation of the book “The Man Who Counted” by Júlio César de Mello e Souza (Malba Tahan) in Etoys, made by the kids themselves, showing a different way of teaching math. We could call this work “math in the real life”, where kids study instead of complex formulas (that costs a lot to find it a meaning and utility), work through the application of mathematics in real life, in an entertaining way. This is an idea that kids will develop when they acquire a base in the management of Etoys and feel more comfortable with the tool.
Another thing that caused a lot of enthusiasm in the kids, is the fact that they can make their own games, activity that over time i have the confidence that it will be done, after acquiring several skills regularly.
After reading everything described above, may be you are wondering why the title of this Post?. Next, a little explanation.
At night, after saying goodbye to the kids, i went to eat pizza with some of the people that are helping on the project, in a crowded avenue of the city of Santa Cruz, “La Monseñor Rivero”.
On Saturday night, in this avenue we often see many young people from a social and economic status very different from the kids of the Children’s Home. In my head were spinning a lot of things, including the inequalities around access to education. Most of the young people that i saw in the Monseñor Rivero avenue have full access to smartphones, laptops and to the latest technologies and other resources in general.
The kids we work with in the Children’s Home can barely manage a computer keyboard, because they saw one, just a few times. Although many of them (over 14 years old) usually have a Facebook (thanks to the Public Internet Places where you can pay a few coins to have access to the Internet), they have very limited access to new technologies, so for them, have access to the Xo 24 hours a day, would be like an impossible dream.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the authorities and some organizations have a confusion about this issue, thinking that training people with low economic incomes in computer tools is the solution, and spend many kinds of resources on projects with just this objetive.
At the end, the education that receive most of the kids that i saw last night at the Monseñor Rivero avenue and the education that receive the kids from the Children’s Home where we are working is just as conductive in both cases, maybe the first kids have air conditioning and a computer room, and the other kids do a great effort to have a desk in the classroom, but education in the background is the same, with or without technological and other new resources is an education from the XIX century.
In my heart i have the hope that this experience, beyond how small (tiny very tiny) it is, with kids who have no parents, forgotten by society, is that these kids will expand this initiative, working for a XXI century education, creative, free, innovative, fearless, giving them alternatives they can use in real life, breaking down the walls of different forms of inequality through creative education.