Envisioning the future your child will live in

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photo by flickingerbrad

The title of this entry is anything but simple. Trying to teach your child skills that will be useful, not necessarily today, but in the world he’ll have to live in the future sounds great. However, this is probably the holy grail of education plans and curricula, and is for certain no easy feat.

I’ve come to this topic via a recent episode on education workflows on the Mac power users podcast. They invited in this occasion Fraser Speirs a teacher from the UK that is highly involved in education backed up by technology. In his case, he runs a school program with a one-to-one iPad scheme. He talks about the interesting things they’ve managed to teach the children with them. Probably much more interesting are the things kids have shown them they can do with an iPad.

Apparently, for those kids–as young as five or six years old–preparing a presentation, typing on a virtual keyboard, and sending an attachment via email is as natural as coloring with crayons is for kids of the same age in a regular school. I’m not really advocating for this as a good idea (or a bad one), but I can’t deny it is interesting nonetheless.

Now what really struck me was something Mr. Speirs said about trying to envision the future these kids will live in and teaching them proper skills. For instance, he mentioned that word processors were a tool whose primary goal was to produce printed documents. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that that’s so 20th century. Nowadays it is clear that the tendency is to avoid printed documents whenever possible. Besides that tool is related to skills more akin to the work of a secretary, whereas making presentations is a skill needed in CEOs. The message I take from these arguments, which should be abstracted from the secretary and the CEO1, is that you have to observe society from a critical viewpoint and make a sincere assessment of where things are going, so that you could be ready for the foreseeable changes ahead. For a kid, having someone that thinks in this fashion is of the utmost importance, and because I am now a dad I can truly relate to this.

What good, or what difference, will it make that your son is an excellent typer on a keyboard if printing documents, let alone keyboards cease to exist. In some not-so-distant future, the people taking the lead today are going to be felt around in the world. I just hope that it isn’t too late for us, the ones that have to struggle with the system and can’t afford to send a child to these top schools, and that have to bring them up with great effort and dedication, and a lot of do it yourself. We’ll see.

  1. I personally have nothing against secretaries or CEOs, but no one can argue which of the two jobs is endangered with the advances in technology.


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