Crayons to Computers

I saw a daycare named “Crayons to Computers” recently. I assume the implication is that crayons are basic and computers are advanced. Programming a computer is more advanced than writing with crayons, but surely their clients don’t learn to program computers. They probably play video games, which takes considerably less dexterity and mental skill than using crayons.

So maybe the place should be named “Computers to Crayons.” Or if they really wanted to offer advanced instruction, perhaps they could be “Crayons to Clarinets.” Learning to play clarinet takes much more work than learning to play a computer game.

13 thoughts on “Crayons to Computers

  1. There is “educational” software available, although I’ve been sorely disappointed with what I’ve purchased or viewed on the web. However, maybe they’re exposing the kiddos to some real thought-provoking computer software, like the Zork series or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Nothing like trying to get a computer to do your bidding using two-word commands – teaches patience and creativity (or at least fosters the use of a thesaurus). On second thought, if they’re using crayons in their curriculum, odds are their students don’t know how to read and/or type.

  2. I highly doubt such programs ever approach anything like the classic Infocom text adventures in terms of mental effort. As Joe mentions, most “educational” software are really very bad games. I’ve often looked at them and felt if kids are going to play a game, let’s make it a good game, and the best games can challenge us on both the dexterity and mental skill levels. I certainly do not have the reflexes and dexterity needed to take on a first person shooter. Role playing games are filled with all manner of trade offs with how to advance your character and many games deal with resource management. Games can teach kids about dealing with failure, and for those who play roguelikes, that the journey is more important than the end. Most games are driven by various formulas and mastery of many is to understand how the math works behind the scenes.
    Taking nothing away from learning a musical instrument, but a lot of people are very dismissive of what a game can teach, and yet go ahead with buying their children awful games that simply are labeled “educational”.
    The following talks about tabletop games, but a lot of the same lessons apply to those played on an silicon based device:

  3. “[S]urely their clients don’t learn to program computers.”

    You’re that dismissive right off the bat? You may be correct, and I’d say you’re likely to be correct, but it’s not like getting children to program would be unheard of. There are plenty of programming environments for children as young as 4-5 years old. You’ve got the classic system with Logo, MIT’s Scratch and App Inventor, and tons of smaller projects like CHERP (disclaimer: I worked on this one) and Alice.

    Also, as a quick aside, there are plenty of games out there that are both mentally and physically (dexterity-wise) challenging, especially for someone still working on perfecting fine motor controls and figuring out the details of things like the relationship between cause and effect.

  4. Interestingly enough, this is from the feed I follow that appears just after your blog! :o

  5. “How do you thank someone for taking you from crayons to Pascal?
    It isn’t easy but I’ll try…
    To Wi-irth, with love”
    (With apologies to Lulu, and the song’s writers)

  6. When I was young my Dad bought me games such as Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise. He liked it because it forced you to do 2 and 3 step thinking; I have to get X to open Y, so I can get Z. Not an educational game, per se, but one that promotes logical thinking. Then there was Gizmos and Gadgets, that had you construct various vehicles from the parts. I remember this one less, but it is still the reason I know that early aircraft didn’t use flaps, but bent the shape of their wing to turn, and various other things about mechanics.

    Then there was an educational game; Cross Country Canada. Was it a good game? Not really. We still played it on my computers Mac Classics whenever the teacher wasn’t looking, and it did more to each me geography then any class did.

  7. Crayons 2 Computers is a free store in Cincinnati for the purpose of bridging the financial gap for teachers who spend their own money to provide supplies for their classrooms. They don’t seem to be directly involved in teaching.

    John, you are correct, though, that if they were involved in educating young people, it is highly unlikely that anything advanced would be taught to little ones. It is the rare educator that believes that a 7-year-old can learn advanced subjects.

  8. Lori: The place I saw was in Texas, but I imagine there are several businesses by that name.

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