Friday, May 1, 2009

Casting into dark waters

When public school teachers achieve National Board Certification in the state of Alabama, they receive $5,000 for classroom materials. This year, we only received $4,000, but that's a story for another day. Like everything involved with education, there are some strictures and limitations. I can take 60% of the materials with me, should I choose to leave the district for another school in the state, 100% of my materials should I transfer to another school in the system, and I forfeit it entirely if I leave Alabama public K-12.

It was exciting have money to use to really enhance my instructional space. Unfortunately, I had to break down and buy and a $850 PC first thing, so maybe I could run my circulation system and read email simultaneously without restarting the computer four times a day. Then I was seduced by technology, and bought a $400 Mobi tablet that's no better than the $35 one I have at home for my minimal requirements. My funds were dwindling, but I had my eye on one more splurge, one that just about me that 60% I could take within the state, too -- a Mac.

Now, I work in a PC district. When I asked our instructional technology specialist about Apples (she has a very cute little Macbook, I have seen it), she passed word up what I wanted. I had to write a rationale and get my principal to sign it, harrowingly enough. When I finally got around to ordering the thing, I was slightly horrified at the sheer cost of it. I was spending $2400 for a computer (and that didn't include the $400 for Microsoft Office!) when I could have bought a dozen netbooks for my students. Well, in an ideal world -- at my school, I could have bought 5 PCs, of 2 1/2 laptops, given the network requirements.

But when I see the iMovies and the really slick slideshows people cobble together with that software, I want to play, too. But part of me wonders why am I spending this money for an Apple? What is it about them that is so seductive? I'm not even a position to answer, I haven't really played with one since I left my little box at college in 1995. Take that back, did play with one at a multimedia workshop in Ann Arbor, it left me in tears. I remain utterly dependent on the right click. Did I throw all my classroom money away on this computer which doesn't interface with our school networks basically at all? That remains to be seen, I suppose.