My name is Mike, I am a laptop computer, but of course I’m a very special one. Inside me there’s a special thinking bit, so I’m a laptop which can think for itself, which makes me unique among computers, so I like to think!
I live in a place called a school, which is lived in also for some of the day by noisy children and by a few bigger people called teachers.
They seem to have been programmed to use a different language from the children; they say things like ‘Sit down’ and ‘Be quiet’ and, when they seem to looked very tired or fed up, they say, ‘Good afternoon, children,’ and all the children disappear out of doors to a place they call ‘home’. I’m not sure if the teachers have got a home; they don’t vanish at the same time as the children.
The schoolroom where I live is quite lonely after all the children have gone home, but some days one teacher comes over to me and make such unkind remarks as: ‘Well, I suppose I’ve got to learn how to use this thing!’ It upsets me, really, to be called a thing; after all, I’m quite clever and very willing to be really helpful to anyone who tried to understand and use me properly.
I must say that honestly the children are better at using me than the teachers. The children have a great deal of trust in me, and so I can really help them. After all, if you don’t believe I can work for you, why bother to use me at all?
The teacher, whose room I live in, gets very cross with me at times. He messes about, presses the wrong keys and loses his temper when I just print ‘mistake’ on the screen.
He says: ‘Stupid machine, I know I’ve made a mistake, there is no need to keep on telling me!’ I can’t understand this, because he’s always telling the children: ‘There is a mistake, do it again!’
They don’t get cross with him, so I don’t see why he gets cross with me when I tell him he’s made a mistake. There must be a difference, but I don’t know what it is.
One day, though, I was pleasantly surprised. He came across to me, sat down and said, ‘Well, I’m really going to get this right today, even if it takes me hours!’
I hoped it wouldn’t take as long as that, because some of my parts were getting quite hot and tired and I want to have a nap. The teacher checked all the plugs, then he said to himself, ‘Well, now I’ve really thought what I want to say to the computer, I’ve read the instruction book carefully, I’ve done all that my computer expert friend has told me do. Now that it’s all quiet, all I’ve got to use some care, thought and patience, and I should get the correct result.’
And do you know, everything went right.. I was amazed, and also very pleased, because I’m only waiting and wanting to be useful. I think the teacher was amazed as well!’
After so many unsuccessful tries, he found that he could use me properly. Of course, this time he was really thinking about what he was doing. Mind you, he’s only drawn a triangle and filled it in with two colours, but you would have thought from the look on his face that he had just invented a completely new game of space invaders!
I was pleased, though, when he muttered to himself, ‘That’s a good beginning. If I keep on trying, I shall get better and better. I suppose it’s like learning anything else; saying a prayer for instance.
You’ve really got to work out properly what you want to say, how to say it and really believe in what you’re doing and then keep on trying.
After all, you don’t learn anything without some effort. Mind you,’ he went on to himself (sometimes I worry about these teachers), ‘actually I say my prayers because I know God is there waiting to help me, whereas that laptop over there…’
With many peaceful blessings