Sunday, October 4, 2015

View Mastery

      So Audrey Watters is ranting on Google, and I can't say I blame her.  I am reminded of the following story involving Viewmasters though.

       As an elementary school kid, our family viewmaster, basic black and metal circa 1955, was one of my favorite rainy day toys.  My grandparents were world travelers and they brought back viewmaster discs from around the world.  On a day when outside was unavailable and the tv was declared off limits, I liked nothing better than to tour the world in my living room.  For some reason, I remember the ones about Egypt, Gettysburg, and Lake Louise the best although we had about forty reels from all over the place.  Viewing the slides and reading the brief textboxes gave me endless pleasure. 

Fast forward about five years to ninth grade.  I got diagnosed with a learning disability.  Specifically, I only used one eye at a time.  I was in and out of "resource room" as it was called.  It was a mostly useless exercise for me.  The special ed teacher had me do vocabulary (I already read at a college level), but couldn't help me with Geometry (which I couldn't conceptualize at all.  How do you rotate a triangle in your mind when you can't think in 3-D?).  So we got the LD diagnoses revoked and because we were rich and had good health insurance (thanks Dad!), or maybe because we could afford to  pay out of pocket, I made a once weekly trek (thanks Mom!) to the South Shore of Long Island to see a vision specialist who taught me to use my eyes at the same time (thanks Dr. Goldstein!). 

Fast forward another five years.  My niece and nephew are visiting my parents.  They have their Viewmaster (red plastic) with them.   I look in and see an incredible 3-D scene.  "Hey," I said, "These things are 3-D now!"  I made all my other family members look.  They explained that Viewmasters had always been 3-D.  I was dumbfounded.  They were dumbfounded.  "You played with them all the time" said my older brother.  "I thought they were cool slide viewers." I said. 

The point here is that technology isn't a game changer.  Here's what are game changers:  resources (my family had them), a correct diagnosis (that comes from resources to see multiple specialists over many, many years); and the time and money to invest in some heavy one on one remediations (which goes back to resources).  So tell me again about Google cardboard?   

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