The Techobell Epiphany

18 01 2017

I thoroughly enjoy people watching.  I do it pretty much wherever I go; School, Church, Stores, restaurants, and fast food places that are also sometimes called “restaurants” (in a loose sense).  Although the location doesn’t really matter for my story, I often find a certain diversity at a certain “restaurant” (“*cough cough* ‘look at the title’ *cough*”).

Sometime after I got in line but before an older lady asked me about where I got my bookbag/satchel/man-purse, I observed a family sitting at a nearby table.  There were two little girls who were peering through the little divider wall decorations (whatever they’re called… you know; the ones you looked through the little holes of when you were little).  I immediately had flashbacks to when I did it as a kid.  It struck me odd that nobody taught me to do it.  In fact: I was often scolded for it as it often meant bothering the table next to ours.  But here it was, two complete strangers, who’s childhood reflected my own.

I suppose it could be obvious that children are exploratory in nature.  Their curiosity at that stage in life seems to have no social boundaries or expectations.  More importantly, I found it interesting that, these kids could take in a whole 360o view of their environment, but instead chose to looks through a small hole in a divider.  At first I wondered if that experience somehow correlated to this up-coming generations knowledge and fascination with tablets and phones.  As if they preferred looking through a box rather than the whole world because to them, that’s how they saw the world.

But then I considered that I did the same thing when I was little (before I really discovered computers, and before cell-phones and tablets were even common-place things).  So these kids in that unnamed taco place (ring any bells?), weren’t likely trying to view the world only from a boxed perspective, and were genuinely just exploring the world as kids do/should, than what was with kids’ fascination with limiting their exploration by narrowing their visual observation capacity?

It then occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, that this idea of visually focusing on a smaller area, is what makes learning easier.  Instead of being bombarded by all the information at once, children prefer to focus on one idea, study it, and then learn.  Taking this one step further, the trend of really little people… like three-year-old’s being able to navigate their parents’ phones (or heaven forbid: their own phones!) with ease, might be under the same concept of the “boxed perspective”.  The consequences of fast moving, interactive experiences on “toddler-tablets” still is up in the air, but it’s very clear that this young generation certainly knows how to use them.

Fast forward in my story about 20 minutes, as I’m eating my stuffed tube of flour patty.  In my defense, it’s not eves-dropping if your talking in public.  Anyway, there is a gentleman behind me trying to explain google search to another older gentleman who is likely in his 80’s.  I was fascinated at the cultural difference between this older gentleman and what I presume to be a completely tech-savvy kinder-culture.

First off, the learning process was completely different.  I hear all the time about children learning through discovery, or hands-on approaches.  But this older gentleman wasn’t grasping the concept of what the internet even was.  The other guy was trying to explain what you could do on the internet, and had to change tactics about half way through my lunch to: This is how you do this.  It was a methodical process.  This individual even stated “once you memorize how to do it, you’ll be good to go.”  It was shocking to me to suddenly realize that how we learn might not be entirely based on nature.  Rather, each generation’s education was built upon the nurture of whatever system was in play.  We’ve seen the old shows, where students sit in a class of even rows of desks, reciting times-tables verbatim.   Compare that today to a broadcast I heard about modern classrooms that often don’t even use desks.

I’m not advocating a specific system of learning, or that even one is more effective than the other, and certainly not how we measure the effectiveness of education (that’s another rant).  But whatever the case, however we learn in our youth seems to stick with us.  Whether it’s a process-based method, or an world exploration.  The saying: “You can’t teach old-dogs new tricks,” may only be logical if consider this: “You can’t un-teach old dogs old tricks.”oHow

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