This September I was honored to be invited at TEDxAcademy in Athens to talk about how to raise technology literate children through stories and games.
Since the first minute of my talk will be Greek to most of you, here is the translation:
“When I was a child my whole world was our backyard where we played games of tag, soccer and ended up with scratched knees. And I would hear the story of The Tortoise and the Hare and The Three Little Pigs. Through stories and games is how I learned the virtues of patience and how to make friends and collaborate with them.”
“But for my child the world is completely different. With the push of a button he can talk to his grandmother over video from the other side of the world and watch movies not in three but in four dimensions. And technology will continue to rapidly change his world day by day.
And yet, our kids today are not ready to understand what technology means.
It’s time for new and more advanced stories and new and advanced games.”
I hope you enjoy it.
Thoughts beyond my TEDx talk
It’s really hard to explain everything in 15 minutes :)
So, let me start by thanking Fiona Lee-Evans and her wonderful class at Pimento Hall Elementary school in Jamaica for giving me the opportunity last year to teach their 2nd graders about computing using ideas I developed for DrTechniko and allowing me to share some of that material during my talk.
Next, I’d like to elaborate on some of the things I spoke about.
On “twelve-year olds running internet businesses”
For anyone having started a company/venture/organization, they know it’s an awesomely rewarding experience. But it is also a very stressful one. Imagine if an elementary school student had to go through the same emotional rollercoaster as Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. It would be “Goodbye, Childhood” for them. So, when I urge us to get kids to build technology and bring it into the world, the classic internet start-up model cannot be applied. We need to nurture these kids and find a model to get them to build stuff and make the world better without them losing their childhood. We are responsible as parents and teachers for putting a framework in place that shields them from all the “adult” stuff like “this vendor screwed you over, so sue them now!”.
On “implementing programming environments anywhere”
One of the challenges I have for DrTechniko is to come up with ways to teach kids about programming and computer science using the oldest technology possible, like pencil and paper. You might ask: why bother, when almost every US and European household has a tablet or personal computer at home and when mobile phones can nicely integrate with modern playgrounds? I’ll answer with another question: what about the less privileged kids in India or Africa that don’t have a computing device? Shouldn’t they get a fighting chance to become the next Bill Gates? They should and they must. It’s going to be better for all of us.
Technology literacy and life
I wish I had time to weave this point into my talk, but when a child learns how to build technology and goes through that process, what they really learn is how to acquire resources, manage priorities, scope problems and do creative problem solving. This is nothing more than a recipe for living a successful life. Especially in a world that’s only getting more and more complex and moves at a faster pace. Life throws a lot of open problems at us and most adults today don’t have a framework to deal with them effectively. I’d like our kids to not have the same issue. They should be tackling bigger problems.
I hope we learned something useful today,