Sunday, May 09, 2010

distraction or empowerment...???

President Obama, delivering the commencement address at Hampton University, said that it is the responsibility of all Americans to offer every child the type of education that will make them competitive in an economy in which just a high school diploma is no longer enough.

Moreover, Obama said, the era of iPads and Xboxes had turned information into a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy.
"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter," he told the students. "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."
But we don't often give kids a choice. Their hands crave engagement, but the only tools we offer for their use are digital. We have become a nation of overprotective parents who stifle real creativity. Cook, garden, make, create. Change our schools and our technologies to empower kids hands to make. Got a hammer?


  1. offer every child \...

    Every US Child?

  2. Which ones would you choose to not give opportunity for hands-on learning to make the US more competitive and more successful at solving our nation's problems? Are there maybe just a few who we should keep sequestered in ignorance? Or does each child matter?

  3. In Illinois, our Legislatures chosen to stiff the poorest.

    Obama's claimed Spiritual Mentor, State Sen and Rev Meeks got a school voucher bill through the Illinois Senate, but it failed by just 12 votes in the House. I wish Obama had given his old pal Meeks a shout out and mabye turned some of those 12 votes.

    This is Obama's SOP responsiblity speech... meaning it's your job as "family" to pick up the pieces of badly failed government.

    The new feature is the video game and techno stuff, and given Obama's campaign's pride on technology...that's a bit of a hoot.

  4. PS ...and there's Arne Duncan's move to pull the school vouhcers program for poor kids in DC.

  5. The hands are an instrument of the mind (brain). Xboxes and Playstations engage and reward the mind through games, iPods and iPads engage the mind in other ways, I suppose. The hands are simply a convenient tool to make use of these mind games until such games and the mind can meld. Then we might create a super race of warriors or who knows what else.

    We have advanced the mind games from the hands whittle/carve/etc. crafts, like a bow and arrow, to the handless mind creating "on-the-spot" solutions, be it in a combat situation or some other situation. The hands have become too slow. Artisans will always exist, just as a person can always kill by creating a bow and arrow to kill with.

    The real question is "How do we wish to train the mind?" not so much what can we do with our hands.

    It is not the Wisdom of the Hands, but rather, the Wisdom of the Mind, for no human hands work without a mind.

    Reminds me, are there schools that spend their days allowing students to play on Xboxes and PlayStations? Don't most schools outlaw the knife or any other instrument that might be construed as a weapon? Have your students been selected based on their docility, therefore their unlikelyhood to use tools as weapons? Do any students with hands come without minds to use those hands? Just fun thoughts, but maybe there is some seriousness in there too.

  6. The point of the wisdom of the hands is that the mind doesn't work so clearly without the hands. We may be rapidly approaching the time you describe of mind and machine melded into a hands free interface, but what will we be losing in accomplishing that?

    Our kids are not preselected for docility. Instead, they are trusted, and arise to fulfill the trust they are offered. A radio report today talked about kids and their natural inclination to take risks. I'm not sure that a study would be required. You just watch and see. But I'll talk more about that in the next blog post.