As I write this, it’s almost three weeks after Saturday, January 29th, the subject of this post, so I’m a little foggy on the details.  I missed four days of blogging due to a computer crash, so this and the next three posts will be sketchier than the rest.

I do remember waking with the wish that I had all of the laptops in my hotel room so that I could start the massive task of reflashing, debricking, and repairing them.  I had about thirty, which I had hoped would be enough to get twenty good ones for the children’s class on Thursday. After starting all of them, I realized I wouldn’t have enough: too many bricks.  I reflashed the rest and did a little research on Jabber, hoping to set up a centralized chat server for the kids.

At AMSAI, we met with the trainers and discussed the upcoming mentors class.  We agreed that we’d split the chairs into groups corresponding to the different schools rather than mix schools together.  We also agreed we’d ask these teams to work together, exploring Sugar on their own and reporting their findings to the larger group.  Beth drew several Sugar activity icons on paper.  During class, we handed these out to each team, asking them to try to figure out what the given activities do without help from us.

The exploration period was pretty cool with the teams working together well, learning a surprising amount of stuff on their own.  The trainers walked from group to group, nudging them when necessary, answering questions when asked.  After about twenty minutes, one person from each group “testified”, or discussed one of the activities they had explored.  As each presented, the rest tried the activity.  It worked really, really well.

The day before, at the very start, I wrote our motto in large letters:  Confusion Is Good.  I told the mentors that these laptops and our training were all about exploration and guided discovery, that feeling a bit lost is a positive thing, since  true and lasting benefit comes from learning things not explicitly taught.  Usually such a comment is met with skepticism.  Teachers generally like to be super prepared.  In Haiti especially, it’s preferred to have the steps outlined exactly.  Such an approach does more harm than good, or so goes the theory.  With computers, if you’re doing anything worthwhile, you’re gonna be a bit confused all the time.  After thirty years as a computer programmer, I’m still confused most of every day, but it’s a good thing.

Today’s class helped show the wisdom of “confusion is good”.  The explorations always started with puzzled looks, but these looks soon gave way to smiles of recognition and accomplishment.   A great class, and all the better for having not taught them much of anything.

2 responses to “D4) Confusion is Good”

  1. Kevin Mark says:

    Hi Tim,
    my friend Anna from Birmingham has tried using the XO as an XS (recently in 2010-2011) for our group to chat with using the Jabber server and it was fine to use. I’d suggest you contact her for notes on doing this or you can contact me, Adam if you dont know her details.
    best of luck

    • teefal says:

      Thanks for the tip. We’re looking for a larger pool than just one school, so are looking into a centralized server. Just Jabber, not school server. We might use school server at some point, but not yet.

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