20 April 2005

Kaleb's World

In a radio interview on a show The Jenius co-hosts, Mr. Hector Carlo, Director of the Technology Incubator known as ViTEC2, agreed with Yours Truly that focusing educational changes at the university level alone is not enough and that changing the educational system, a government purview, would take time.

The Jenius might add "lots and lots and lots of" time. If We depend on The Fools, that is.

We have a half-generation (about ten years' worth) of children and teenagers whose operational environment is sociodigital. They live in technology the way the rest of us, older and less naturally-involved with it, cannot imagine.

Take my little boy, Kaleb. He'll be 5 in May and though his computer time is restricted (as is his TV time and no video games yet), he maneuvers around a computer with an ease that puts The Jenius to shame. Everything in the environment makes sense to him: it has to because it's happening. Kaleb routinely shortens procedures, creates shortcuts and generally modifies the digital environment as much as possible.

Why, then, is his TV time restricted and he does not play video games? Because more important than having an electronic babysitter and his physical manipulation skills are the development of his imagination and thinking skills. Kaleb has learned to read not because he was forced to, but because he sees it as a daily activity. He solves jigsaw puzzles and plays with blocks, logs and other manipulation toys as ways of using his creativity. He spends more active time with toys, books, paper and crayons than with passive TV viewing. And once a day, for about an hour, he explores the computer.

The Jenius is not saying there is a method here, nor that this is the one true method or even that others need follow it. What is important is that Kaleb is a child, allowed to explore as a child and encouraged to use his healthy child-energy to play and learn, rather than have it shoved in front of an idiot box.

Sadly, Our schools are larger versions of idiot boxes, less colorful, but more damaging in their backward-thinking, bereft of leadership and vision, politicized to the point of septic-tank effluvia and incapable of evaluating themselves towards a better future.

Is there a Solution here? Of course: Take back education from its pathetic patrons and place it within the home and the near-community. Education is a business, for there is a huge market, an increasing need, constant demand and sustainable models to compete for clients. But at the heart of that education industry there must be a clear sense that the end product, the merging of Knowledge and Student, has to be geared towards Empowerment and the Future, not Idiocy and the Past.

Let's leave those two worthless products to The Fools that foment them.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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