An after-school Technology Club project in Higginsville pairs the computer expertise of young teens with the patience and life-wisdom of seniors.
“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”
– Benjamin Franklin
“I don’t know how you have the patience to teach me this,” an elderly woman remarked to her computer teacher, a teenage student at Lafayette County C-1 Middle School in Higginsville.
The student and senior giggled together as the student replied, “Oh, you are doing great. Just keep watching the cursor.”
However, following the tiny cursor on a computer screen is not an easy task for seniors even though they have the expert instruction of young teens to guide them.
There are other challenges in this after-school Technology Club project that pairs the computer expertise of young teens with the patience and life-wisdom of seniors.
Rhonda Boedeker, middle school teacher who designed the program with fellow teacher Pat Beale, says that seniors struggle seeing the screen clearly even with the monitor zoomed as much as 200 percent.
“Using the mouse is difficult for some seniors and presents eye-hand coordination issues as well,” Boedeker adds. And she adds that sometimes remembering what they learned in the prior class is also a challenge.
The kids and seniors tackle these issues each Tuesday after school in an innovative Technology Club project in which kids teach seniors basic computer skills.
The students become teachers, and the seniors (many of whom were classroom teachers once themselves) become students.
John Knox Village East buses the seniors, who range in age from 70 to 90, to the middle school Tuesdays after school. On Mondays, the Technology Club gathers after school to make lesson plans and practice what they will teach the next day.
Boedeker says that the appreciation and gratitude the seniors have for their young instructors is heartwarming. “The seniors are eager to learn and always come with a smile on their face,” she adds.
And the students are equally thankful for the lessons in life they garner from their elders. One young girl was so inspired by the interaction between she and her pupil that she realized she truly loved being around older people. She began helping her grandparents more and volunteered for church projects with the elderly as well.
As Boedeker explains, “The project works both ways for youth and seniors alike; it becomes a ‘pay it forward’ effort that is mutually beneficial.”
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, one has to wonder if the elder computer students are giving their young teachers a lesson or two about Thanksgiving in the process.
A conversation that goes something like this:
One senior asks the teens if they can find the answer to this question online – “Do you know what American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?”
Another elder asks a middle school student, “Can you find what year the first Thanksgiving day celebration began and can you tell me how fast turkeys can fly?”
“If not,” quips another senior, “ Look it up – in the dictionary!” And then, they all giggle some more together.
Just remember the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, remarks another senior: “The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions.”