From: Sharon Wie
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 20 Nov 1996
Remote Name: ll-mac-02.ucsc.edu
Boy, about 5 or 6
Towards the end of the practicum today, a family of three children showed up to play on the computers. The youngest of the three kids and his mom looked to be a little confused. Thinking that they may need some help, I offered my assistance. The little boy (with a beautiful name that I just can't remember) wanted to play on the computers like his older sister and brother but didn' know where and how to start. The CD roms were all being used so we sat down at a windows 3.1 computer. Fortunately, we sat down at a computer with quite a few games in its software. I saw his older brother playing blocks and thought he may be interested in playing the same thing but wasn't interested. We tried playing ALL the games. We started with Jacks and ended with Hero. It was a little frustrating to sit and watch him try these games that were obviously way too challenging. We tried to simplify the games, for him, allowing him to grasp the general concept, but he wouldn't win the actual game (since he wasn't playing completely right) and grew disappointed. The young boy was having an enjoyable yet interesting time on the computer. He was very determined to find a game that he was good at. While we were trying to play Hero, he would ask me to play for him, in fright of getting killed. Later, his brother came by and showed him better than I ever could have how to play the game. Realizing that others older than him were doing better, he resolved to asking others to play for him.
We have talked in class about why kids may be uninterested with the computers. We defined interest as spending a lot of time in one activity. What I have realized is that the children moving from one game to another is not a demonstration in lack of interest, but of difficulty. The little boy I worked with today was very interested in computers. He just had a difficult time finding a game that was suitable to his level of skills.
Many of the games at Barrios Unidos seem to be of great difficulty to many children. Although some CDs offer simpler tasks, there are usually only 3 computers with CDs working and not all of them are easy games. The basic programs on the computer are set at very high standards. Even I have a hard time figuring them out. Since the majority of the children attending Barrios Unidos are youngsters, shouldn't we have easier, funner games?