This summer my big boy has spent many after-dinner hours with Mavis.
Mavis, as in Mavis Beacon of typing lessons fame. 'Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing' was recommended to me by Lori of Project-Based Homeschooling, when I posted a query on Twitter, and I took her recommendation without further ado, as she's an expert homeschooler and her boys are computer and programming pros. My boys, on the other hand, attend Italian public schools, are now in high school, and have never come close to computers and much less done any programming (they do, of course, have access to computers at home) - a fact that utterly shocked an American mother I met at a dinner at the American Embassy in Rome a few months ago (well, not everything about my life gets published here, though I did share on Instagram the floor tiles and the shoes I wore that night).
This American mother proposed that a program be established where (American) computers be donated to Italian public schools. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the Italian school system, the issue isn't the lack of equipment per se. The main issue is that even if there were up-to-date computers in Italian schools, there wouldn't be anyone able to teach how to use them. (These days most kids in Italian schools are far more conversant with technology than their old-school teachers).
Are Italian school kids disadvantaged compared to their international peers, as the American mother suggested, because they haven't learned the latest technology? My sense is that the time they invested during their school years (elementary through high school) slow-learning, using pens (fountain pens even!), writing in cursive from grade one, looking up words and topics in paper dictionaries and other physical reference books, writing papers by hand (without the cut/paste/del functions), learning Latin ... and everything that comes from not having keyboards and internet as part of their curricula, is actually quite beneficial. Of course, it would also have been nice for them to have a chance to learn how to use the latest hardware and software. Overall, though, I think that there will be time to learn technology, once this foundation of learning is laid down.
Technology time has now come for my seventeen-year-old boy, who took it upon himself to learn how to type with Mavis this summer, and who's already talking about studying the Python computer language next.