Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

I Need an Update

The past few days I've installed the new iOS on my iPhone and iPad and have been feeling surpassingly d-u-m-b. I am so used to swiping (left to right) to get to the password screen, but the new iOS has decided to change that: Now I have to punch the "home" button instead. But I keep on swiping (when I'm not thinking about it), then cursing myself when I get some other screen than the one I wanted. There are new moves for the camera, too--and the flashlight. Not to mention the many other features I've not ... explored.

I'm a little concerned about all of this. I saw my dad give up on technology when computers arrived. However, Mom (six years younger and more techie anyway) jumped right into ComputerLand (she was the first in the family to own one--though maybe younger brother Dave earned that honor?) and soon was merrily using it in all sorts of ways--email, Quicken, word-processing, shopping (!), America On-Lining.

Soon, though, it all began to slip away from her. She was believing every Internet rumor and hoax (and was not easily disabused, believe me). And then she couldn't remember how to turn it on and off. And now it sits on her little dining room table. Her grandson Rick, bless his heart, updates it when he visits, though she hasn't used it in years.

I've done a pretty good job of keeping up over the years--especially when I was teaching. There was no way I was going to let all of this ... new stuff ... whirl by me. And so I learned about computers and PowerPoint and Blackboard and Moodle and grading online and texting and whiteboards and digital projectors and whatever.

But now--five years away from the classroom--I'm starting to feel as if I need a new operating system. Or at least a major update.

Let's pause and look back ...

Not long after I started my teaching career (fall 1966), I found this device in my mailbox at school one day.

AND NOW--OF COURSE--I CAN'T FIND IT. Any day for the past five decades I could have showed it to you. Not today! So ... use your imagination ...

Anyway, it was a small little cardboard wheel, with another, smaller one, fastened to it. And it worked sort of like a circular slide rule. I could set one wheel to show the number of points on a test, then move the other wheel to line up a certain kid's score on that test, and--yippee!--I could thereby get the (approximate) percentage that  kid had earned. It was so fast! No more calculating scores by hand!

This, I must hurry to inform those of you who are chronologically challenged (i.e., young), was long before the days of pocket calculators (whose simplest processes I quickly mastered--oh, did grading go quickly then!).

Then, near the end of my public school teaching career (I retired in January 1997) I discovered the computer program GradeQuick, and that was even easier. All I needed to do was enter the grade in a spreadsheet, and GradeQuick would give me all sorts of info--the kid's score, the kid's term and yearly average, mean and median scores for the whole class, and on and on.

I was thrilled when I returned to teaching at Western Reserve Academy in the fall of 2001 and discovered that the whole school was on GradeQuick. I could sit, say, in Saywell's Drug Store, sip coffee, munch a bagel (with crunchy peanut butter), enter grades in my laptop. I would give the kids each week a little printout showing where they stood, how the rest of the class (mean, median) were doing, etc. It was awesome.

And then came cellphones and Blackberrys and smartphones and ... a new iOS update this week.

And my damn finger keeps swiping instead of button-bushing and I am feeling DUMB.

But I guess I have no choice but to rage, rage against the dying of the light--and perhaps one day I'll push it right!

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