Tuesday, January 12, 2010

over time....

As we invest in new technologies the thrust is toward ease of use and ease of access. So they present their value to producers for a limited time as the products and methods are gradually refined. Over time, those who are employed in implementation of new technologies require less education and skill to do so, which in the case of computers, has opened the entire world as our competition.

We have been able to witness this effect in nearly every industry as we moved from skilled to unskilled labor with the mechanics taking the place of skill and thus marginalizing the role of worker. So there is an inverse relationship between ease of use and development of skill, and an inverse relationship between range of access and value. Why pay anyone to do something that you can do so effortlessly for yourself?

So this morning I made these charts to try and explain it. Let me know if these mean anything to you.

As parents, thinking of what children most need to know for success, most would place computer skills as top of the list, but parents most often run a generation late in their thoughts. With computers being made to make things easy, and as they become more widely accessible to all, many of those skills have become commonplace in the marketplace. Of far greater use would be creative problem solving and the kinds of people skills that enable successful team participation. Allowing your kid to hide out in the land of computer games is contraindicated.


toysmith said...

I agree - kids are going to pick up "computer skills" naturally without their parents needing to worry. What everybody seems excited about nowadays are called "21st century skills." Things like collaboration, complex problem solving, creativity... Hmm... Haven't great thinkers been holding these up as virtues going back to at least, say, Plato?

Doug Stowe said...

94 percent of households with kids 4-14 in the US have computers, so there is a whole lot of kid time being spent in the operation of computers. Unfortunately, very very little of it is creative, very little of it is collaborative, and none of it takes the kids outdoors. None of it leads children to responsive and responsible behavior.

In the world you do stuff and learn from it. Then with what you learn, you do stuff that leads to further learning. The computer mimics that pattern, but unlike real world behavior, does not have real outcomes that are measured within and by the community. But don't we just love the danged things? I've been watching my kids response to objects in the woodshop. Objects of all kinds are irresistible. A knife, a stick, anything that can be held, fiddled with, manipulate. If a noise is made by the casual handling of it, so much the better. I mentioned this to the CSS school secretary along with the comment, "I can see why many teachers don't want stuff in their classrooms." Crystal responded, "But what would they learn?" So it is nice to teach in a school where all get it.