Yesterday Sylvia talked about how boys were more aggressive when computer time is offered. I had some classroom coverage today and it allowed me to post this while in class observing students. I had worked with a couple of really fast working students and we decided to go explore some games found on the links shared last night in class. Once the computers were open for use immediately a group of five boys gathered around two computers and closed off the rest of the class. The girls in the room maintained their positions at the classroom tables and showed no outward interest in using one of the computers. As class time merged into lunch an even larger group of boys gathered to discuss strategies and achievements during game play. Although it was very cool to listen to the interactions amongst the group of boys it was unfortunate that the group of girls were completely shut off from being able to use either of the computers. Some of the back channel discussion last night spoke directly to this phenomenon of excluding girls from computer use in the classroom as boys take over the computers. Very politely the girls in the room reverted to reading their books and having quite conversations amongst each other and never really drew attention to this inequity of computer use. Maybe these middle school girls are the polite wall flowers we assume they are. I hope not! Computers and games are not just for boys, there is a definite dynamic that needs to change to make sure girls feel equally entitled to use technology.
I took a quick break from this post and went to talked with the group of girls, I wrote about above, to see if they agreed with this inequality. For the most part they agreed. However, one girl did proclaim “…if I wanted to use one of those computers I would go make one of the boys get off and take over.” Unfortunately her response was the exception to the rule rather than the standard. I also asked the girls what style of games were of interest to them. For the most part girls listed problem solving and strategy games that draw highest interest. The problem solving aspect was very different than the “shoot’ em up” explosions based games the boys get into. As a real time experiment I had all the students return to their seats and offered the computer only to the girls in the room. Several girls took the opportunity and proceeded to explore the site for games that were of interest to them. Equal time must be a part of our plan for computer use in the classroom as I saw today when we leave it to open aggression and the claiming of a computer unfortunately the boys take over.