My friend R. was recently repositioned from WestWing Secretary to OR Bloc Secretary. With the 'promotion' came the demand for learning a new skill: how to use a computer.
No. That's not: how to type. Or: how to switch from a PC to Mac. Or: how to create new documents in MS Office. Nope. We're talking ground ZERO: where is the power button . . . what is a password for . . . how to use a mouse!
Because I am the Département de la Rééducation I was allotted the responsibility of teaching R. everything she needs to know about computers. I recently read the first half of a great book (because I have a tendency not to finish them . . . call it Attention Deficit Disorder) called Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach . . . it's BRILLIANT! It's all about educating adults. And since OT is all about education, or rather most of the time 're'education, I find there to be lots of practical tips for approaching adult-learners.
So, taking the advice of the book, I asked R. what she already knew about computers. She sweetly smiled at me and said, 'Debo, I've got nothing' (okay, so it was a little more polished when said in French, but that was the general translation). She had never, EVER, used a computer before. She's seen them in the administration building . . . but she's never come closer than the other side of the desk.
We started at the beginning. The very beginning. The power button. This brought us to the log-in page, I clicked on R.'s name. 'How did you do that?' she asked. 'I just clicked it with the mouse.' She stared at me. She had seen me stare intently at the screen, then a little arrow move, then her name get bigger and the others disappear. What she hadn't notice was the little white thing I had introduced to her as 'a mouse' was resting silently under my right hand, which I ever so delicately slid from side to side and eventually clicked.
I went back through step-by-step and had her try choosing her name and entering her password several times. Working the mouse took the longest. Ah yes, the painstakingly beautiful process of new-motor-learning!! I kept reassuring her that it would come, with time . . . not sure she believes me yet.
We talked about passwords and case-sensitivity. I relabeled the 'q' and the 'a' and tried to explain that an American keyboard is different from a French keyboard, and while we are typing on an American keyboard, they computer thinks it's French. It was a confusing conversation and eventually she stared at me blankly with a steady smile and nod . . . I knew it was time to move on.
After explaining what 'on the desktop' means, I started with the program icons at the bottom of the screen (yup, she's learnin' a Mac, baby!). Finder (that would be the superior equivalent of 'my computer' for you PC folks) was first. But trying to explain a dossier (a file) proved to be too complex for our first day. I moved ahead to Dashboard where we found the calculator. This give us a good chance to practice the mouse. I called out simple math problems (like 2 +9-4x2/6=) so that she could track with the mouse. I'm going to have to get more creative on this one . . . finding typing programs and mousing-learning exercises in French for a Mac is proving to be DIFFICULT!
Eventually we came to Safari. The Internet. Again with the blank stares. She had no idea what the internet was:
Deb.: Oh, you know, where you can find websites.
R: (blank stare)
D.: You know, the thing for email and websites.
R: (blank stare)
D.: Um, you know . . . GOOGLE!
R: (blank stare, this time with a head shake-NO!)
D.: Do you know Gooogle?
R: (another shake of the head)
D.: Well, it's a place where you can type in something and it finds everything on the internet that has information on what it is you were looking for.
R: (again with the blank stare)
D.: For example, if I wanted to find a recipe for a cake, I could type 'Cake recipe' and in less than a second, Google will provide me with a million different cake recipes.
R: But you can't make a million cakes.
Needless to say I've got my work cut out for me. But R. is a willing pupil. Talk about a cross-cultural experience! I think I'm on the cusp of learning a lot about communication, adult-learning, motor-patterning (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up), patience, and endurance.
My family got our first computer when I was in Kindergarten. I was five. I can't remember my life without computers. Sure we went from a joy-stick to a mouse, DOS to Windows, desk-top to laptop . . . but they've always been there. I can touch-type (the greatest thing I left high school with) . . . and create pdf files . . . and edit photos . . . and send emails . . . and troubleshoot when minor things go wrong. I come from a digital world.
And now I find myself smack dab in the middle of Where There Is No Computer! (Maybe if I click my mouse three times, I'll get back to Kansas.)