As I was doing this I was thinking though that these sorts of quizzes and codes send messages and I am no so sure they are good ones. I don’t just mean that there are intrinsic biases (you’ll score more nerdy for using a Mac than Windows and more nerdy still placing Linux over Mac) towards specific technologies. Rather they promote computing as an insider game.
In the early days of the Internet when computers were still mostly kept in isolated chambers and managed by a sort of priesthood there was some value (perhaps) in showing off how much of an insider one was to establish some credibility. But today I believe we want a more inclusive world of computing. We don’t want or need everyone in computing to have their whole live revolve around the latest hardware and software combination We don’t want an exclusive club of uber nerds.
Any group gets what they reward though and a special geek code or high nerd score if taken too seriously becomes a reward for some and an exclusion for others. This is especially important in schools were we win or lose many students.
For a teacher I believe it is important to reward the girl who comes in, gets her work done and handed in right and in time after working a reasonable amount of time as much, perhaps more, than the geeky boy you can’t chase out of the lab but who always turns things in at the last moment having worked way too many hours on it. Working hard and smart is in many ways much preferred to working long and hard and fly by night. Yet who gets the attention?
How we reward and encourage the student who doesn’t want to be the next great super geek but who wants to be quietly proficient and competent is important. It bares thinking about – a lot.
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