posted: 06/20 at 08:00 AM
Technology has always made things easier for us. And this is generally a good thing. I have a hard time thinking why I would want to pay bills though the regular mail system if I could do so securely online. Why wouldn’t I want to use online maps to find where I was going? It has also helped us detect certain diseases while they are still treatable, helped us treat debilitating pain, and probably increased our quality of life in a lot of other ways.
However, in all the good that comes from technology as it relates to our heath, it is important not to lose our humanity. This might seem overly cautious, but it’s an important thing to consider for a society that moves as fast as ours does. What I mean is getting ourselves to the point where we hyper-analyze everything we do to the point of paralysis, paranoia or worse - when we literally rely on watching computer screens and tracking data when a little common sense or careful thought might do the trick in a fraction of the time. The solutions to most of our problems involving health, education, personal life, etc., are relatively obvious once we are able to tune in to ourselves without the aid of technology. Losing our ability to learn through experience, to feel things (instead of being told what we are feeling) and to observe for ourselves can be very crippling.
Removing our ability to think and act like humans (who have been around for a LONG time) can have a lot of ramifications for the next generation. Businesses will capitalize on our wish to find quick fixes and shortcuts to healthy lives. And, as I said, some of this will help us. Unfortunately, businesses are not always the best at deciding which ideas help us and which ideas do not since they rely on what we think we need.
We can use technology to solve all sorts of problems. But remember that we need to help kids learn that we need to be human first. Kids who learn to know what they need for themselves - kids who learn what it means to be thinking, feeling humans - will be able to survive just about anything and come out on top.
For more about how technology is driving our personal habits, read THIS...
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posted: 05/31 at 10:00 PM
In the computing world (which is everyone’s world), much is being written lately about the “cloud”. For those unfamiliar, the “cloud” is essentially where all of our data is stored that isn’t actually on your computer, such as email, flickr photos, youtube videos and all sorts of other data that we can access via the internet but whose files are not stored directly on our own computers. This saves us space on our hard drives and allows us easy access to all kinds of data as long as we have a connection to the internet.
This has allowed us very easy access to the above mentioned items whenever it is convenient. It keeps information at our fingertips literally all the time if we make use of our mobile internet-capable devices. But the downside is that we don’t have to memorize anything anymore (or, at least we don’t feel like we have to - “I can always just look it up”). But all of a sudden we run the risk of not really knowing anything anymore. We miss depth of experience. Our persons and personalities are largely determined by what we know and how we use the the things we know. All of a sudden “expertise” becomes less important because anyone can look up the same stuff. The advantage of experience becomes devalued because we assume that because we can look something up instantly, that we can immediately “know” it. We forget that processing information and learning takes integration and application in to our lives - it takes TIME.
Our growing dependency on social networking tools (the usual Twitter and Facebook, etc.) is part of this same problem. Communication in short bursts encourages small (and often incomplete or irrelevant) thoughts and a significant amount of over-sharing. We start to focus our daily lives in short bursts, which makes it harder for us to concentrate on things that take time and require us to maintain focus for a long time. How would you read and process an entire novel? Why would you if you thought you could just “look up” the parts that were important. This is a real risk for us all, and most of all for kids who are just developing these skills in the first place. This is where leading by example become important.
To be sure, social networks offer many benefits to us and they help maintain connections that already exist in “real life”. And our ability to access the “cloud” is helpful in many instances where we would otherwise be “wasting” time on more mundane things in our lives. But let’s not forget how easy it is to get sucked in to a shallow existence where everything depends on the internet - where we as humans don’t actually mean anything anymore.
Go memorize something. Pursue something that takes time. See how it changes you. Encourage others to do the same.
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posted: 03/21 at 09:00 PM
For anyone who has ever stood in front of a classroom full of kids…
As the teacher, it is surprisingly hard to figure what gets through and what doesn’t. What a teacher says usually (hopefully) makes sense to the teacher, but this does not in any way guarantee that the students are getting the same message. Teaching is very much about empathy, but the best teacher in the world cannot understand what each individual in the classroom is experiencing, nor can she teach directly to each student. And the best teacher in the world also cannot completely eliminate those momentary lapses of attention that may occur at very key moments in the learning of a complex idea or skill. Even students who do well have lapses that sometimes means trying to build upon a shaky foundation of knowledge.
What’s surprising about the Khan Academy is not the idea of making videos of good things to learn. The surprising thing is how this individually-focused learning method actually seems to work in a classroom setting. It uses technology in a way that fills gaps, monitors progress and augments understanding in a way that wouldn’t have been possible years ago. Kids are individuals. And they must be treated like individuals at some level. The Khan Academy seems to understand this.
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posted: 03/10 at 08:00 AM
The reason I became interested in working with kids in the first place was because I realized two things:
1. Most of the things adults have trouble doing would be easier if they had learned them as kids.
2. Education of children, in general, has been sort of marginalized in a huge way by society at large for the past several years.
The other thing I realized was that when I suddenly found myself in a position where I needed to be an example for children, I started to be more aware of how I lived and the choices I made:
1. I became more careful about what I said and how I might influence people
2. I found that, by teaching kids, I was actually learning things and discovering what was really important in my life
3. I realized that I only had a certain amount of time in which to convey my ideas
And these are typical realizations of many who work directly with kids. It is hard work, but it benefits EVERYONE (the kids, you and society).
AND if there was only one thing I could teach kids (or anyone, for that matter), it would be how to accomplish your goals. It is one of those skills that, when learned as a kid, becomes the most powerful tool in life.
Sue Shellenbarger, of the Wall Street Journal, writes a little about how goal-setting is important to kids HERE...
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posted: 02/25 at 08:00 AM
One of the best thing about kids how well they don’t hide their emotions.
I’m not sure, but I think this kid wanted a Wii for Christmas…(3) Comments/Leave A Comment •