An argument for computer class at UW-Eau Claire

Students need more MS Paint, Cool Math Games, and weird typing exercises in their lives

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch

The Highlight Reel
May 10, 2023

In middle school, a day of class was a survival mission of homework, tests, and social stress. In college, that’s no different.

The title of this article might seem self-explanatory. Our world and our lives are constantly becoming more strongly tied to the Internet. Media literacy, technical savvy and online competency are all increasingly important in our everyday and professional lives.

This article is not about supposedly “applicable” or “useful” skills, though. This article is about stuff that’s actually interesting.

This article is about weird typing exercises, and those orange rubber covers they made you put on your keyboard so you couldn’t tell which letters were which.

The computer class that I’m pushing for UW-Eau Claire to add to every major’s prerequisites will have more in common with the average middle school’s internet curriculum than anything actually useful in real life, because useful things are dumb and boring.

This may not be true for everyone, but I can confidently say I’m essentially the same person I was when I was 12 years old.

I replaced recess with naps, cheesy Bosco sticks at lunch with cheesy breadsticks from KwikTrip, and playing Minecraft with — still playing Minecraft. 

At the end of the day, I, and I assume many others, am essentially the same kid as I was in 2013, except now they make me pay money to go to math class.

In middle school, a day of class was a survival mission of homework, tests, and social stress. In college, that’s no different.

What is different is that in middle school, every once in a while you would get the glorious oasis in your day that was computer class.

In the early 2010s, the Internet and the computer were slightly less all-encompassing than they are now, and most of us didn’t have iPhones with us at all time yet. 

Computer class meant diving into a world full of endless possibilities, and also those weird typing games.

We made beautiful MS Paint and Google drawings, distracted each other from our adolescent problems with Flash games and also played weird typing exercises.

The Internet, and by extension computer class, was a place to be creative, free and entertained. Computer class was an excellent disruption of the monotony of a public middle school education.

Sure, many of us are now chronically online and have a less than positive relationship with the Internet. From that lens, looking back at middle school computer class can be like watching a caffeine addict have their first sip of espresso.

I would argue, though, that the computer class I’m envisioning for UW-Eau Claire’s mandatory curriculum would be about deconstructing that unhealthy relationship with the Internet, and rebuilding a more mutually beneficial connection to it.

We’re inundated with the Internet everyday, and it’s easy to forget the magic and wonder it held circa 2013. It’s a complicated part of life — full of misinformation, echo chambers and not-quite-accurate reflections of reality.

But it’s also one of the most amazing inventions in human history, and an incredibly powerful resource for personal and professional growth.

So, let’s bring back computer class. I think we’d all benefit from it, and maybe we’d learn how to type better or something while we’re at it, too.

Porisch can be reached at [email protected].