Like teaching someone to drive.
OK, I just finished teaching an “Internet for Beginners” class, and I’ve gotta tell ya–I hate doing it. It’s so frustrating! The reason is that many people who sign up for a beginning Internet class are beginning computer users: people who have not touched a computer before, or people with so little experience that you really have to start from scratch.
This means that you have to teach people how to use a mouse. Learning to use a mouse means learning how to make your eyes and hand work together; holding the mouse between the thumb and ring finger while resting the index and middle fingers on the appropriate buttons; not pressing on the buttons while holding and moving the mouse; not moving the mouse while pressing the button; looking for the arrow to change to a pointing finger; not accidentally pressing the right button instead of the left; etc.
I’ve limited my class to ten basic things to learn about the Internet, but we spend the majority of minutes of the class simply getting on top of a link and clicking on it.
The next class in the series is about signing up for Google mail. In most cases so far, the people taking the class are simply not ready to move on to signing up for e-mail. At last month’s e-mail class, it took a full hour to just create the account because the patron did not do mouse practice as I suggested.
Clearly there is a need for this type of instruction (the class is always full and we always have a waiting list), but I don’t know if I want to continue to do it. What I want to be teaching is Web 2.0 skills: e-mail, bookmarking, blogging, Flickr, etc. The problem is, when people sign up for a class, they say they have Internet experience but still may not be able to use a mouse.
My head tells me that I should teach what I enjoy. Trying to instruct something you hate will kill your spirit. This is why the majority of the world’s population doesn’t teach eighth grade math.
My huge guilt monster tells me, “But the people need basic instruction!” Do it, you big meanie!
So, I’m taking comments. Please let me know what you think.