From the Department of Education where my group was in charge of dragging the rest of the research branch into the computer age — putting computers on desks of contract managers for the first time, in most cases — I moved to American Airlines. Though American boasted the best computer reservations system in the world, at headquarters my cubicle came with no computer, not even a typewriter.
I requested a typewriter to draft documents. “That’s what we have secretaries for,” I was told. “You draft longhand, let the secretaries turn them into print.”
That quickly changed, thank the business gods, but I feel like I’ve been thrust back to 1987 in many ways since my laptop crashed last week.
The good people at Fry’s noted the fan wasn’t working, but feared it might be damage beyond that. I’m informed now that it’s been sent to its birthplace with HP/Compaq in California for a more serious assessment and, I hope, quick repair. Alas, when we bought the extended warranty (the first time such a purchase seems to have not been a really stupid idea) we did not purchase the “automatic loaner” rider.
Oh, I’ve got the data backed up. What I don’t have is an easy access to one computer I can use regularly or transport with me to get that information into the formats I need. Lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and tests are essentially on hold.
A somewhat better prepared group of juniors this year. They have heard of Columbus. They know basic map stuff, like in which direction we say the sun rises. Prehistory remains mysterious to them, human migrations prior to 1750 are fuzzy to them, and the Age of Exploration seems to be complete news. All that stuff I put together last year in case this happened? It’s on the backup drive, the drive that I don’t have enough USB ports to tap into while doing much of anything else.
My classroom for a good book! Of course, I’d have to reinvent the book check out process, and find some way to transport a half-ton of books from the book room to the classroom, and check them out.
We had a meeting Friday on what we’re doing to differentiate classroom lessons for differently-abled learners. Unable to get lessons to any learners, I found it a waste of time at the moment. How much other work teachers do is frustrated by the assumptions that all systems are go for teachers, when few systems are.
A reader, nyceducator, noted he’s never had a working computer in his classroom in 25 years. He’s better prepared than I am as a result, and I envy him at the moment. Should I retrench and prepare for a paper future?
Teaching in America is, too often, a constant reinvention of the wheel.
The laptop I’m typing this on is 9 years old, old enough that it can connect to the home WiFi only with an expensive modem. That takes up the one USB port. I think I donated the last wired mouse I had, and the touchpad on the computer is failing (which is a big reason I bought the now-ailing computer back in 2009). The battery has been failing for a long time, but that model is no longer manufactured. Used batteries are tough to find on eBay, even.
I can write it out longhand, and fax it to a secretarial service who will convert it to electronic files for me.
How is your 1987 going?