More Jackson County Opinions...

February 28, 2001

By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 28, 2001

When the computer goes down, 'duh'
The Morton Road Baptist Church is about an eighth of a mile from Shirley's house in Athens. I walk by there fairly regularly.
On Saturday morning, the choir meets to practice for the Sunday service.
On February 3, while their parents were inside singing, three little boys were outside playing touch football in the parking lot.
The biggest of the three put a pretty tough touch on one of his buddies. In fact, it was a pretty good tackle.
"Ray Lewis, Ray Lewis," he yelled as he hovered over his little friend.
Every kid has role models, I guess. No doubt some of his were inside preparing for Sunday church.
But Ray (the ravin' Raven) Lewis?
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
* * *
Oh, well. Come Monday morning, the three boys were back in school. Playing compter games? Could be. As you know, some school districts are determined to make a computer available to every student. As with everything in education, not everybody is in favor of that.
Religion, politics, race and income are not the only things that divide us. Technology has a way of coming between us, too.
Some folks hate high tech and would like to turn back the clock to the good ol' days. Others see advancement in technology as the way to the promised land.
Some experts say technology is overrated in education. Others say it is the greatest thing to come along since the wheel or sliced bread.
"Everybody loves to play with new toys. That's why we have Christmas. But the fact is, when it comes to technology in schools, there is no Santa Claus. Taxpayers are going to be picking up the bill." - William L. Rukeyser, coordinator for Learning in the Real World.
Rukeyser also said, "A child must be literate before he or she is computer literate. It hasn't been proved that students are learning more because of the expanding classroom technology."
Here is one rebuttal: "Technology in education offers one of the best opportunities we have to make advances in such subjects as math and science." - Craig Barrett of the Intel Corporation.
And Richard Riley, U.S. Education Secretary in the Clinton administration, said, "Everyone responsible for teaching children in this new century should know how to use the tools of this new century."
Where do I sit? On the fence, as usual. I can see both viewpoints.
And it was not technology, or a lack thereof, that helped me to arrive at that wise conclusion. It is what used to be called horse, or common, sense. It was not learned on a computer or in a one-room schoolhouse. I got it from Mama and Daddy, two of my role models.
But enough braggin'. Sorry about that.
Like I said on January 21, "No way can we go back. We either go with the flow or the flow will go without us."
Technology is here to stay. It is alive and well and growing, and to try to stop it would be an exercise in futility.
Having said that, let me say this: If and when I get off the fence, I'll probably get off on Rukeyser's side. I agree with him: "A child must be literate before he or she is computer literate."
And how does a child become literate? I have a few suggestions:
One, start reading to him while he's still on the bottle or breast.
Two, turn off the TV.
Three, enjoy at least one meal with him and the rest of the family every day.
Four, give talking and listening equal time.
Five, help him understand that there is a Power greater than either of you alone or both of you put together, and that everything he and you have is a gift from that Power.
Six, when he starts to school, support the administration and teachers, and if he gets in trouble with them, make sure he's in trouble with you when he gets home.
Seven, if he doesn't take his cap off in the house, take it off for him. (That's just one of many ways to teach him respect, manners and civility, all of which contribute to literacy.)
Eight, pierced body parts in no way, shape, form or fashion have anything to do with literacy, so encourage him to spend that money on good books. (If you read to him while he was still on the bottle or breast, that shouldn't be a problem.)
Enough already! If I keep on telling you how to raise your kid, I might begin to show some of my biases and prejudices, and that would never do.
Back to the subject at hand. I have just one concern about technology in education, especially if the time ever comes when every student is dependent upon a computer to become literate.
When computers go down - and they are prone to do that, you know - and the teacher asks this ninth grader to spell cat or solve 2 plus 2, and he scratches his head and mumbles "duh," we are in deep trouble.
Tell me, what's wrong with throwing in a little old-fashioned, computerless reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic in the curriculum mix?
We don't have to go back to the good ol' days to hang onto what worked in the past. Some of those things work exceptionally well in the here and now.
Some things never change - the Ten Commandments, for example, the beginning of wisdom, the law of gravity, other things in nature - and if we ignore or abandon them, we do so at our peril.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

By Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 28, 2001

A man of music
My grandfather, Roy Adams, was a man of few words, but he expressed himself quite well through music. I heard him described recently as a "quiet leader," a man who didn't like to be in the spotlight. He was one who worked behind the scenes, particularly in his church community, where he helped to establish a choir many years ago.
My family attended a dedication ceremony Sunday at Papa's church - Erastus Christian Church - where he and several other members were remembered not only for what they gave to the church community during their lives, but also for how donations made in their honor at the time of their deaths have added to the music and beauty of the sanctuary. A baby grand piano and a clavinova were purchased for the church with contributions made in memory of a former pastor and stained glass windows were installed with funds given in memory of members of two church families. A new set of hymnals for the church, as well as the clavinova, were purchased and dedicated in Papa's honor. The pale gray cover of the hymnal opens to reveal the message "In Memory of Mr. Roy Adams," followed by page upon page of the songs he liked to sing and hear.
I think that would have made Papa proud. He was, after all, a man for whom music was a big part of life.
I've heard stories of how the neighbors used to sit on their front porch in the evenings, listening as Papa, sitting on his own porch, would sing and play the guitar. I believe that he also played the banjo and mandolin, and when we began clearing his things from his house, we also found a harmonica and a dusty accordian stored away.
By the time I was old enough to realize that he knew how to play those instruments, Papa said he was too old to show me, that his hands were too old and wouldn't cooperate. I didn't believe him, but I never did hear him play.
I did, however, hear him sing, his wonderfully deep voice reaching down to the low notes of old gospel tunes. One of my favorites - and one of my earliest memories of his singing - was the old song "Church in the Wildwood."
Come to the church in the wildwood, Oh, come to the church in the vale. No spot is so dear to my childhood as the little brown church in the dale. Oh, come, come, come, come....
The words may not be exact, but that's how I remember them.
Papa once told me that when he was a teenager singing at church, he was approached by a man who offered him a scholarship to a music school in Macon. As the oldest of three orphaned boys who survived by farming, Papa felt it was his duty to stay at home, so he declined the offer. Although he may have had some secret regrets about that, I know he loved his homeplace and I think he found other ways to express his love for music. He sang in the church choir well into his 80s, even making a few home recordings as part of a church trio and quartet, tapes we are glad to have.
As I listened to one of Papa's favorites, "In Times Like These," on Sunday I could almost hear the way his voice carried the song, clear and strong, "walking down" the "Be very sure" of the refrain before other voices chimed in.
I like to think of Papa in his overalls and straw hat, free of the sickness and the infirmities of old age that he so hated, under a shade tree somewhere or maybe on the steps of a front porch, sharing a song and reunited with the lost loved ones of his youth once again.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.



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