Give Our Kids the Proper Tools and Stand Back!

In the early 1980s and in need of some additional hard drive capacity, I checked with the local computer store where they offered a Winchester hard drive at a price of $5,000 with the grand capacity of 5KB. While quite shocked, (A buck, a byte?) I asked how to make it work. The comedy began. First one salesman then another, and then the boss, all scratched their heads over that one. Finally, the boss said that if I could wait 45 minutes a 14 year old always stopped by after school and he could answer my question.

It is no wonder the USAF is delighted with the current crop of pilots and weapons systems officers who must enter data into the flight data computers and flight management systems. Most of those guys were raised with electronic toys with their myriad buttons and touch screens and are vastly more comfortable using the modern keyboards found in todays' fighters and bombers.

Computers have become such an integral part of our lives–from flying an airliner to a fighter-bomber to running a small business to the housewife keeping the family books—-or recipes—-that we sometimes overlook todays' new generation. It is critical that they not be left behind in the field of computer learning. The Federal Government has "committed to ensuring that American children have the skills they need to succeed in the information-intensive 21st century; making modern computer technology an integral part of every classroom; providing teachers with the professional development they need to use new technologies effectively; connecting classrooms to the National Information Infrastructure; and encouraging the creation of excellent computer learning software."

We cannot leave computer training for our kids entirely up to the government, however. While it is great to see government surplus computers in the classroom, it is important for the kids to begin the computer learning process at a very young age. Toys that entertain and educate at the same time are ideal—some of the best are toys that inspire imagination and pretend play.

Most of us have seen the exponential rise in computer capability. Who could have imagined twenty years ago what is offered today? What will they offer twenty years hence? Give our Kids the proper tools and stand back.