I had a talk with the leader for my daughters school district a couple weeks back. I thought that if we are creating a site where kids can learn and play, creating and sharing in a digital world, might be a good idea to understand how kids do that IRL. (IRL: for those of you who haven’t entered the twittersphere yet, google it).
The conversation turned inevitably to why kids aren’t learning basic online skills from an early age. His rather apocalyptic response was basically, “it’s too late”. Apparently he’s been trying to implement computer sciences in school since the 70’s.
Why is that? Why, with the host of knowledge, literally at our fingertips, on everything from online science sites to youtube education, are the basic skills for navigating an online world being kept out of the classroom.
In my daughters classroom, a group of 23 students “share” this monstrous looking thing. I say “share”, cause IMHO I don’t know of any kid that would be tempted to approach it, given the host of tablets, smart phones, game consoles and other tools they have waiting at home.
While the kids in the video link above are 12 years old, they are learning concepts that could just as easily be taught to 4 year olds…maybe 5. And they are being taught in a way that’s fun, engaging and thought provoking.
Yet, what I see in most of the calls to educating kids about computers and the online world, is regarding safety and the dangers of using technology. Everything from health hazards, developmental problems to predators and social seclusion.
Don’t get me wrong, safety is really important. But the fear that parents, caretakers and governments highlight would do well to be balanced with the fear that we are raising an illiterate generation, technologically speaking. Kids who will know more about the world 200 years ago than the one they are growing up in.
The good news for parents, if they don’t want to rely on public education to catch up, is the tools are there, the knowledge is there. Take it, use it, play with it, understand it, just don’t be afraid of it.
Like it or not, its here to stay.