(Translated from Reunión con padres en Villa Cardal, published by Pablo Flores on 6/03/07)
Last Friday we had a meeting at Villa Cardal with the parents and teachers of the kids that attend the school. Several of the project collaborators gathered in a classroom to inform advances in the project, but mostly to listen to opinions, comments, criticism... to have some feedback on how this community is experiencing the arrival of the laptops. From this meeting I compiled several phrases that I want to make public in this blog.
The meeting congregated a lot of parents, we didn't count them but I estimate they were over one hundred. The great majority of them didn't have a computer at home.
Some of the most touching phrases that were heard:
- "My daughter's dream was to have a computer and I had never been able to buy one."
- "The world has entered my home."
- "It's incredible how much was advanced in these days, kids are not afraid."
Some of the comments were related to the impact of the laptop's arrival to their home:
- "It demands more time from us, to show their achievements with the computer and to teach us."
- "They don't want to skip class because they are afraid they would teach something new about the computer."
- "It unites the family, they don't like to work alone."
- "It increases communication in the family."
- "He hasn't turned on the other computer anymore."
- "They watch less TV."
- "First grade kids handle everything in a visual way. Although they don't know how to read, they surprise us with the easiness they handle it."
- "I have 4 kids at school", ... "I see they have the same enthusiasm at all ages."
- "The sister wants to help him, and he doesn't let her because he wants to achieve it by himself. Sometimes this brings fights."
- "They have taken photos of the whole family and everything they see."
The teachers and the school director also told their experience. They are learning how to take advantage of the laptops to teach together with the kids and the project's team.
- "We promoted helping the classmate, explaining what one knows..."
- "Reading and orthography were incentivated enormously."
- "Little kids that didn't stand out in the past surprised us with their command of the machine, they also teach their classmates."
- "I had good experiences putting two kids working in the same machine, so they can discover together helping each other and there is not a big difference with the time it takes to each one of them to complete the activity."
- "Some kids get distracted in class making other activities in the computer, so we take it away for one day as a punishment."
The main aspect to solve in Cardal is the lack of Internet access from homes. Although several Access Points were installed in different places, it is still not easy to connect from most of the houses. The phrase "... and we are waiting for Internet" was repeated by most of the parents. Teachers also had some difficulties with Internet, because apparently not all the time there's good connectivity inside the school.
Apart from that, in the last few days we registered the first computer break-up; as a consequence of a brother's fight, during the struggle the screen broke. For some days the kid will be without a computer until we determine if it is possible to repair it.
In Cardal we are in an experimentation and learning process in which there are still many points to solve. The meeting was very moving and, most of all, we perceived the gratitude from a town that is motivated by a new opportunity in their hands.
I finish with a phrase from Sylvia González, who coordinated and led the meeting: "It is a project of equity, it is base on giving technology access to populations that wouldn't have it otherwise." "We are all part of this. It is not only a technologic nor pedagogic subject, but everyone together trying to build something better."
P.S.: I'm waiting for photos taken at the meeting by some teaching students. I'll upload them as soon as I get them.