Thursday, May 15, 2014

digital divide

digital (adj.) Look up digital at 1650s, "pertaining to fingers," from Latin digitalis, from digitus (see digit). Meaning "using numerical digits" (numbers) is from 1938, especially of computers after c.1945; in reference to recording or broadcasting, from 1960. Related: Digitize.

So there we have it. The digital divide. We've thrust ourselves in one new direction  with the year 1938 being the dividing line between reality and fantasy... with a change of meaning of the word "digital". Actually, this dividing line was first described by E. M. Forster in the Machine Stops, 1909, a must read for anyone on the internet that might also have some vague concerns about some reality and real skills they might be missing out on. (This is becoming less likely each day, as folks can barely pull their eyes off their iPhones or set them down long enough to pick up a real tool.)

Photo by Greg Goodman
Folks have had grave concerns about their children being caught on the wrong side of the digital divide, and thus not acquiring digital skills. But the failure in the acquisition of digital skills of the real kind is real. Children who are being raised with iPads are failing to learn how to play with blocks, and are thus impaired in their discovery of the interrelationship between all true things.

Maslow had said (a rough quote) that if your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. If your only tool is an iPad, then every problem will appear digital, easily manipulated by the swipe of a fingertip, but will children be left with the capacity to act upon the real world? Educators in the UK believe they will not. For children and particularly infants and toddlers, screen time should be severely restricted. Children must have more creative forms of expression provided, and wi-fi should be disabled at night. Children should be given real tools that allow them to create objects of useful beauty that they may share with their families, friends and communities. We must not abandon them to the wrong side of the digital divide.

The real digital divide is that few children in schools are being given the opportunity to discover the real world, and some are being held back by their parents over-reliance on digital devices to entertain and distract their children from real learning.
"The nascent period of the hand centres has not been accurately measured ... but its most active epoch being from the fourth to the fifteenth year, after which these centres in the large majority of persons become somewhat fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency ever afterwards. The small muscles of the eye, ear, larynx, tongue, and hand have much higher and more extensive intellectual relations than the large muscles of the trunk and limbs. If you would attain to the full intellectual stature of which you are capable, do not, I would say, neglect the physical education of the hand." — Sir James Crichton-Browne, 1902

Today I'm driving to Des Moines to take part in Weekend with Wood.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment