Posted 09/11/2015

Educating the next generation

We need to stop seeing life only through our own eyes

As far as technology is concerned the world has changed for our generation, and as parents, teachers, leaders and educators we are seeing the impact of that change on our children.

The average 14 year old now absorbs five hours worth of content for every hour that they are receiving information.

How? Well your daughter comes home from school and puts her headphones on, there’s a TV on in corner, she is checking her emails, watching YouTube, and researching her homework. Within an hour she has absorbed more information than we have in a whole afternoon.

Your daughter is not ‘multi-tasking’ as you might like to think

This is frankly not possible, you do not take in separate pieces of information at exactly the same time – she is jumping between different tasks at incredible speeds.

My generation learnt at school that you start something, follow it through and then move on to the next thing. Simple. But the children of today no longer learn in this way, they have a fragmented attention span due to the fragmented style in which they receive information.

I recently gave a speech in Barcelona about this topic, explaining why the way we teach our children is at odds with the way they are now programmed to learn, and I was struck by the view of one member of the audience.

A lady stood up during my speech and said ‘Are you telling me you condone the use of technology by kids’?

I was a little take aback, and said. ‘Well, yes.’

We had a short discussion and established that she did not agree; her 12-year-old daughter was ‘too absorbed by technology’ and she felt it was having a negative impact on her education.

‘Ok, let me ask you this,’ I said. ‘If your daughter opened the computer and started researching her homework, put the Natural History Channel on to watch the Venetians, and was listening to Rosetta Stone teach Mandarin through her headphones, would you feel the same way? No, of course not, you would bring people in to see your star child. So it’s not about the technology – it’s about the content.’

The lady could see my point, and my point is this:

Stop blaming technology for the decisions we make and embrace it – it’s not going away. If you need to adjust the content, then focus on that, there is no point saying ‘Don’t look at the computer’ – instead be creative and show your child more interesting things to look at on the computer!

We need to stop seeing life only through our own eyes. It is only our generation that perceives technology as a problem for our children; the next generations will not view technology in the same way.

The world has moved forward in the way it transfers information, and we must accept that our kids have moved forward in the way in which they absorb it.

Many years ago people got their messages across to others by carving them on a tree or on a stone slab – well now we have Social Media. Let’s move forward together with our children, and maybe we will all learn something along the way.

Next Entry
Children with Cancer UK