Monday, February 17, 2014

The Illiterate of the 21st Century

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."-Alvin Toffler 

According to the definition of illiterate, the word refers to a person who cannot read or write. However, I wonder if this definition is restrictive in the sense that it only refers to books. Now here is the question that I want to ask: can someone be illiterate in any other way other than just books? The answer is, yes!

Now we've all seen an older person who types with their face about an inch away from the screen and occasionally types at approximately 1 mph. Or the person who sees an IPad and uses all five fingers to navigate. And the examples go on and on. I would label all these people computer illiterate, or better yet technology illiterate. However, who does the blame lie upon, these people or the type of education that they experienced who failed to integrate them and equip them with the skills needed to survive this society's advancement? I can't imagine how much pain someone goes through when they can't use a certain type of technology. To feel left out, and left on your own to figure things out. But we can't point the finger at them. The level of blame is too intricate and too deep. 

When I came across the quote at the top, a seed of hope was planted in me. Even though there will be a lot of time invested in catching these types of people up (technology illiterate people that is) with current trends, there is still a piece of hope. A hope to revive them into society. A hope to learn something new, while unlearning a habit of not trying. A hope to relearn something you should have known, and have the right to know as a citizen of a global world. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How young is too young?

How young is too young? Well the answer depends on what we're exactly referring to. With respect to technology, well that answer depends on how young we're talking. Now that answer doesn't seem certain at all. According to an article in the Washington Post titled 2- to 4-year-olds are most frequent users of educational media, study finds, we may be talking as young as 2 to 4 years old. Now here's the fun part of the answer. These 2 to 4 year olds are actually the "most frequent users of educational technology". Interestingly enough, since this age group is likely to be home with their parents, the study mentions how suddenly there is a boom in the educational technology world to reach out and market to these children. As a result of these promotions, the companies say this is all for the good of our children and their minds.

In the beginning, I thought this was absurd. Initially, the only thought that kept running through my mind was "How could we expose our babies at such an early age to technology???" However, as I read on, I thought maybe this whole "starting technology at a young age" isn't so bad. Here's why. Well the sooner these children learn to navigate the various tools that exist the better. Also there is an educational benefit. While we adults may use technology to socialize and "waste time" these children may be making critical connections and learning profoundly. As an Early Childhood Family Education advocate, we have to recognize that it is between the age of birth to five that these children learn the most. So I guess the need to reach out to children under five isn't crazy at all. In fact, I believe this may be the only time in their lives that children watch and engage with nothing else but educational tools. According to the same article, as children age, the less time they spend watching and engaging with educational shows. Therefore, here is our route to creating skilled but smart and engaged children. I guess the saying "you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover" is something I would insert here as a lesson learned.

In case all of this didn't make sense, think of Sesame Street. An educational show that teaches children all types of lessons from numbers, letters, to even how to eat healthy. Now if our children are able to learn the most at this age period, imagine how advanced our children could become by the time they reach school. I believe this marketing could really help us in becoming stronger in areas of Math and Science. 

Here's the article I was referring to, Please feel free to take a look. It's very interesting! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Road to Self-Sufficiency is Thataway!

There is an evolution going on, an evolution of technology in the educational field. It's perhaps safe to say that we are moving from using papers and pencils to just using our own fingertips to navigate and learn. Although this change is happening almost miraculously and quickly, there is a few road bumps ahead. Of course this is bound to happen whenever change happens. According to the article Fear of technology may hold back change in education, says Lord Puttnam, the road bump isn't even the technology itself, but in fact the teachers involved in this evolution. Unfortunately due to the fears of the teacher, the evolution is being dragged out and is not happening as quickly. These changes are slowing down the progress of our evolution. However, it is not that the teachers necessarily fear change; the intimidation may just be due to fear of being replaced. 

If teachers fear that they will be replaced, I believe that this is true. Teachers will be replaced. However, this picture is not completely accurate. Teachers have to know that they will be replaced by something that will peak the interest of our students today. No one wants to hear voices anymore (i.e. being lectured at throughout the whole day). These students want to just stare at a screen and I hate to say this but learn on their own. They want to figure out how things work on their own, and that is remarkable. Not only are these students teaching themselves but also they are discovering their independence.

I have surely witnessed this happening right before my eyes. In my current work, students in the classes that I work in use IPads to learn math. As I make my way down the rows to see the efforts of each child, I notice something each and every time. Here is the cool fact, the math program that the student’s use does not give them directions at all. They have to kind of figure things out as they advance in the levels and see how things work. I had one child raise his hand and ask me for help. Since this whole program was new to me, I tried helping, but that didn't go as great as I expected. The child decided to just ignore me and went on to figure it out on his own. A part of me felt sad that I could not help, but the other part of me was extremely ecstatic that the child knew how to go on if the teacher did not know how to help. We are raising children who are self-sufficient in technology. Now, that's the evolution of education. 

While our teachers may be stumping the change from happening smoothly, there is a huge benefit here anyway, and that is teachers who fear they may not know enough and children who do know enough are both essentially learning together and the struggle is something that will be noted in history. 

Here is the article that I mentioned in the beginning, please take a look, it's very interesting!