Interesting article on CNET – A new crop of kids: Generation We – talking about how the latest generations are growing up adept and comfortable with technology from a very early age. Some snippets:
Gabriel, an intensely curious kid who’s about to turn 8, has been fascinated by everything from skateboarding and basketball to statistics about world extremes…. He likes to look up information about the subjects on Wikipedia with his mom and then turn to YouTube for short video clips… If he hears a likeable song in a YouTube video, he might visit Apple’s iTunes store to download the music, too.
“Driving home we’ll see a bird,” Kim said, “and then go to Wikipedia (at home) and look it up. Then once we’re online, he’ll say, ‘How about we go to YouTube?'”
Naturally, the world of business and media is fascinated with understanding how to market and sell to this new generation.
I’m interested in a different angle – how will their ability to learn be influenced and affected by these newer Internet technologies, and what will the effect be on their future?
It’s easy to assume that having the Internet is going to make our children a lot smarter a lot sooner… resources that were previously only accessible to the priviledged few are now available to all, instantly. But is that all we need?
In the book “The Social Life of Information” by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, the authors make a very interesting comment:
The web has made learning about easier than ever. But learning to be requires the ability engage in the practice in question
…and that could be the new challenge. There will be no shortage of people able to demonstrate how much they know about all sorts of subjects. But how many people will actually be able to practice what they ‘know’. At the moment, there are still no shortcuts to becoming skilled in practice – determination, patience and effort continue to be essential ingredients.
If we become used to having instant answers to questions, will it affect our stamina for the deeper level of learning required to move from knowing about something to actually being something?
An effect from moving away from agriculture and manual labour has been that, put simply, most people aren’t as fit as they would have been 200 years ago.
Will the effect of not requiring effort to learn about subjects send our brains in the same direction as our stomachs? I hope not.