Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What are they thinking?

For some reason, I like office supply stores. I enjoy looking at paper, and desk caddies, and envelopes, and rubber bands, and . . . oh, yes, computers and software. And there's actually a Staples a couple of blocks from me, so I get a little exercise walking over and checking it out.

Yesterday, I was looking at the software aisle for maybe a game or something for my home computer when a couple started looking, too. They spotted one of the bargain disks and said, "Oh, there it is. PowerPoint."

Well, I figured they could use some help and pointed out that it was a disk on how to use PowerPoint, not the software itself. They told me that their daughter needed PowerPoint for school. I told them about PowerPoint, that it wasn't cheap, and discussed potential replacements.

I happened to ask what school their daughter was going to, figuring it would be a local college.

"She's in the ninth grade," they said.

I think they noticed my double-take.

Now, I can understand why a teacher might want a ninth grader to use PowerPoint: it's a program used in college and the business world, so the practice is useful. But to expect them to have access to PowerPoint is just crazy. The school does evidently have computers in their library, but don't let students use them for PowerPoint (probably for good reason: they're probably there to let students use the Internet for research). But if you're going to insist on they're having the program ($109 alone, or $129 in the most basic Office Suite), the students should have a place like a computing lab where they can use it without buying it. What if the student couldn't afford a computer at home?

I still keep shaking my head over this.