Why I Fear Messing Around

I had an “ah-ha” moment this evening as read this article on Messing Around. About 20 years ago we had some type of Mac computer. It was my husband’s and the operating system was Japanese. He had written an article and needed it typed into the computer. Now that was going to be a challenge since the article was in Japanese and I basically don’t read Japanese. I might also mention that my husband is a pathologist, so it had something to do with cancer research. My in-laws were visiting at the time and my mother-in-law was willing to help, unfortunately she knew nothing about computers or typing in romaji for hiragana and kanji to appear. Don’t ask me why my mother-in-law and I decided that we would “help” my husband and type in the article.I might also mention that I had 2 teenagers, 2 pre-schoolers and a one-year-old at the time. Needless to say, I don’t think I was thinking straight. Anyway, my mother-in-law read each kanji, I would try to understand the syllables she said and type in the romaji, wait for the kanji to appear and then she would help me decide which one to click on. It was rather painstaking. We eventually finished. Now, I was trying to save energy and thought I should shut down the computer. I had no idea how to save the document or really what I was doing with the computer. I did manage to get the computer turned off, but didn’t know what we had “saved” the document as or even if we had saved the document. When my husband came home, he was unable to find the document, although I do believe a few years later it did make an appearance, although too late. He had to retype the entire thing. I thought I would never touch a computer again. Seven  years later I began teaching and was introduced to more Apple/Mac computers, but with an English operating system. Although I use computers on a regular basis and even have helped other teachers in our elementary division to use them in the classroom I think I have some fears of spending a lot of time and then losing everything I’ve done. I’m realizing that most times what I lose in not irreplaceable and the more I “mess around” the more fun and interesting things I find to do. I know that computers need not be feared and can be fun.

6 thoughts on “Why I Fear Messing Around

  1. Wow, that sounds like a nightmare! At least, I’m sure, you developed a little bit of a bond with your Mother-in-law over that project!

    One thing to help with your fear of losing it all, the new Mac operating system has auto save so hopefully you wont ever have to go through that again.

  2. This post brought back memories of my first Mac back in the days of the Apple IIe. I know I wrote more than one university assignment 2x for reasons just like you’ve mentioned 🙂

    Since this is a personal story, I am curious how your personal reduction of fear has impacted your thinking about what you do with your students?

    • Actually I think I’ve overcome much of the fear. I regularly use computers in the classroom. I prefer Mac but have 5 netbooks in the classroom. I don’t think it is my fear but pure frustration with the operating system of the netbooks at times. (We are using Ubuntu which is okay, but since they are not Macs they cannot connect to the regular server and work on the “guest wireless” but will often decide to look for a different wireless. I spend a great deal of time trouble shooting.) Regularly I will hand my computer to one of the students when the netbooks are being less than cooperative. I am looking forward to bringing the Mac laptops into the classroom periodically for the students to use. It has also been exciting this year to see all of our elementary classes using our new laptop cart and last year I helped our elementary Japanese department apply for Ipads to use in the classroom. So hopefully I am not projecting any of my “fears” or uncertainty to my students or colleagues. I am thankful for a supportive tech team and this year an elementary tech facilitator that isn’t me!

      • Interesting… I’ve had similar things happen too, but I’m not sure that I would qualify them as part of the Messing Around stage… I’m sure there are different ways to interpret it, but I sort of feel that the very purposeful, professional, needing-perfection, nature of the task you were doing separates it from being Messing Around in my understanding. I guess I feel like Messing Around is about experimenting with tools without the prescriptive needs of accomplishing an externally defined task. I feel like the most valuable messing around for me anyways, is when I’m able to be whimsical and spontaneous without significant fear of loss.

        On a side note, I wonder if the pattern of having skipped the sort of open-ended messing around stage I’m describing might also be part of what separates so-called digital natives from prior generations. Maybe a lot of our fear of messing things up comes from not having spent sufficient time doing so while messing around?

        What do you think?

        • Jamie, I think you’re right. It really wasn’t “messing around” when I was trying to accomplish a task. I think what struck me was digital natives enjoy “messing around” and don’t really fear trying something new. Beginning as an adult, I have been reluctant to try the messing around, wanting someone to show me how to do things and yet at times feeling totally overwhelmed with the how to. I must admit though I thoroughly enjoyed the Networked Educators conference with Chris Betcher and Kim Cofino. I have been “playing around” with a classroom blog http://caj2nd.edublogs.org/ and although it isn’t terrific I’m getting started. Only wish I had a bit more time to mess around with it before presenting it to the parents tomorrow!

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