Interview: Jenn Greenaway

Jenn Greenaway is an early education specialist and open source enthusiast who studied child development at Moorpark College and The University of La Verne. She currently teaches infants and toddlers the skills that are most essential to success in the technology industry. The SCALE Team had a chance to talk to Jenn about her presentation, "Your Baby Can Hack," which will be given at 11:30 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, in room Los Angeles A.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I'm Jenn Greenaway and I've been a casual Linux user since the late 90s. ("Hi, Jenn.") I used to tell myself I could stop any time, but it's been a really long time since I have booted up a Windows machine, so I think I'm pretty far gone at this stage. I'm one of the less technical people to attend SCALE, although it is a personal point of pride that I introduced my husband to IRC many years ago. My background is in the study of Child Development and I've worked for the last four years for my local school district as the lead teacher in an infant and toddler program. Prior to that, I've worked with elementary school children, parents and families, and preschoolers.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk you're giving (unless you want to), can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Certainly! I'm going to be addressing the current hot topic of introducing technology to young children. Parents feel a lot of pressure these days to make sure that their children have every educational advantage, as our country trails in test scores, curriculum previously designed for seven and eight year old minds is pushed down to our kindergarten and preschool students, and more and more devices are marketed to younger users. I've got research-based data to share, practical advice, and some entertaining anecdotes to make it all more enjoyable.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?
A: I think of SCALE as a kind of annual family reunion. My husband Gareth is one of the co-founders of the event, so I feel like I have been immersed in SCALE since before it existed (I have memories of the LUGFest events that preceded it). It's been fun to watch it grow and develop over the years (like a technologically gifted child) and it's always a pleasure to see the individuals and groups who return year after year, often with new and exciting projects. It is a wonderful mix of people -- regular users, non-technical folks like myself, professionals, and real open source gurus -- and I can't imagine a friendlier gathering of geeks anywhere. I always learn something new at SCALE.

Q: Explain the title of your talk.

A: My talk is called "Your Baby Can Hack" to poke a little fun of the semi-popular program "Your Baby Can Read" and others like it. Your baby can't read (that is not to say that your baby cannot recognize symbols -- I would never insult your baby that way!) and your baby most likely can't hack, either. The promise of such things tends to distract parents from what I believe are better and more meaningful learning goals for real children. Perhaps a more accurate title would have been, "How Can I Raise the Next Great Open Source Guru?" but it's just not as catchy. My talk may appeal to parents, educators, and anyone who is interested in understanding their own mind a bit better.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: Thank you!
[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]