Why Join Computer Class When You Can Get Creative?

Posted on: November 27, 2009 Posted by: Manin Oem Comments: 0

Why Join Computer Class When You Can Get Creative?

This year, PEPY has two new computer teachers whom we hired through an organization we believe in. We love that they are building capacity in motivated youth, many of whom come from rural areas like Chanleas Dai, and we are of course hoping that some day there will be people FROM Chanleas Dai who go through their program. In order to get there, however, the students of Chanleas Dai must have higher level math skills, as none of the students who took the CIST test last year in Kralanh District passed the test.

As such, our computer classes are designed to support math learning and critical thinking techniques, previously mostly through the use XO computers and an MIT-developed program called Scratch.
In addition, the classes are designed to allow students to express their ideas creatively and collaboratively as most of their other classes use rote memorization and lecture-style teaching methods.

When trying to express PEPY’s goals for “Computer Classes” and how they have little or nothing to do with the COMPUTER, but more to do with new ways of solving problems and self-expression, we realized that once again it was a problem of misnaming something. (See some thoughts here about how calling the XO Computer “One Laptop per Child” has caused confusion as this “laptop” does not fit our
prior definition of what a computer should do.) The teachers and students in Chanleas Dai already have a mental image of what “Computer Class” should be:

Computer Classes teach typing.
Computer Classes teach Microsoft programs.
Computer Classes are designed to give you computer skills, which you can then use in a job that involves a computer!

Computer Classes teach… computers!

This is NOT what PEPY’s “Computer Classes” are meant to be doing!

We recognize that most students who enter 7th grade in Chanleas Dai will continue to work and live in Chanleas Dai in their future. Hence, the majority of them will probably not be doing a computer-based job. They might be working in agriculture, fixing machines, generators, or bikes; they might be taking care of animals, or they might run their own small business, among other options. None of these requires the Windows OS.

So, we renamed the class. And we think the concept might have stuck! Teachers understand that our main focus is not on the computer now that the classes are called “Creative Learning Classes”. We want these programs to focus on the following two goals:

1. Math and creative thinking skills

2. Creative expression, problem solving, group work, and experiential education

Below is a list of ideas we have already suggested. We’d LOVE to hear your ideas for creative and interesting learning experiences you have had, heard about, or created! We want these classes to be not only a chance for students to direct their own learning in areas that will provide skills for their future,
but also a place where students feel they can express themselves in ways that might have been overlooked in other classes. Let us know your thoughts and add to these ideas, as we’d love a global perspective on what Creative Learning Class could be!

  • Design of a website about Chanleas Dai: maps, census data, videos about interesting things in their village (the cycle of planting/harvesting rice, an essay or video about their travels to school and what they see on the way, etc)
  • A semi-annual Chanleas Dai newspaper
  • Leadership games (Awatd has already designed and created low ropes course games at the pagoda’s school in town, including a spider web you must crawl through and teamwork “caterpillar” walking sticks!)
  • The good old “make a container to house an egg and we’ll drop it to see if the egg survives” activity (though we would prefer to do it in a way that does not waste food!)
  • Khmer Literacy learning games with Scratch

Any more? Share your ideas! We’d love to hear learning activities that you have loved and learned from.

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