Friday, July 8, 2016

Children of the 21st Century

Our children and grandchildren of today have amazing technology at their fingertips and they know how to use it, many times, better than some adults.  When I think back to my own children growing up with new technology coming out all of the time, never did I dream that their children would be so much more further advanced in technological skills as they are.  

In 1986, the old Commodore 64 computers were out.  We had one at home for the family and the school district where my children attended school had just put one in each classroom so that the teachers could send attendance reports and lunch counts to the office daily.  They could do other tasks on their school computer such as lesson plans, sending e mails to parents, or other features that were available at the time.  My son was 6 years old.  His teacher was flabbergasted at the whole idea of having a computer in the room.  One day my son bravely asked her if he could show her something on the computer and when he did, she was amazed at what he knew.  In no time at all, he was sending the daily attendance and lunch count to the office.  She did ask my permission if it was okay to have him spend a little time doing this job.  I agreed, after all she had to work very hard to keep him challenged and this was one way to help her.  

Now when I think it is 30 years later and we actually do still have some adults who can't complete basic skills on the computer, yet we have toddlers and even some who are barely toddlers knowing how to play educational games with scrolling up and down and left to right, how to take pictures, including selfies and how to Face Time their grandparents, aunts and uncles?  There is no stopping their love of technology because they are not aware of the "good old days."  They have such a desire to learn, that it is simply a natural instinct in many of them.

These "good old days" that I spoke about would be the days that I would be pouring over World Book Encyclopedias to try to research information for school reports or for just the sheer reason to have an answer to a question that I had.  Now this information is at their fingertips on Google and other sources from the Internet.  If they have a question that they want answered, immediately with a click on a smart phone or tablet, the answer is right in front of them.  All educators need to be aware of this.  Perhaps, this is why some children have trouble with the sit and get style of teaching. They are used to searching for themselves.  They know how to problem solve using technology and teachers' roles need to change so that they are the facilitators of getting the knowledge instead of feeding it out.  

Another personal example is when my granddaughter went with her mother and father to see the ultrasound picture of her baby sister. When the technician showed her the head and the arm of the baby, this 4 year old said, "Isn't she so cute?"  Then she replied, "I used to be in there, too."  When is the last time that you ever heard the old stork delivery story?  Okay, so I did not try to feed that story to my children either, yet they were not looking over ultrasound pictures, as they were an emerging technology and extremely hard to see anything clearly.

For two years now, this same granddaughter has used my IPhone to sing songs, plays ABC games, connect the dots, look over pictures of herself and even take selfies.  She used to ask for the code to get in to the phone.  She now knows it by heart.  And of course, I always have an game icon just for her to go to for her pleasure.  If it is not someone's IPhone, then she is talking to the Amazon Alexa. She will have a full conversation with this tool, telling her what song she wishes to hear, or for it to tell her a joke.  Woe be it if Alexa did not understand her words, because this little girl will tell her that she is not listening.  It is rather amazing to be a witness of these kind of conversations.    

I don't think there will  be a 21st century breakdown as predicted in one of Green Day's songs.  The children of the 21st century have technology all around them and they intuitively know how to use it. All they have to do is take advantage of it.  

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