When I was growing up getting ahead with technology was the big thing. Being computer literate was an essential ingredient to prepare for the world of work. On what must seem like technological dinosaurs we learnt word processing skills, how to use spreadsheets and the importance of touch-typing. I’m talking pre-internet here; most smartphones probably now have bigger memories than the computers that I learnt to type on.
And then the world wide web arrived, revolutionising the way that we communicate. Sometimes you can forget how much of a revolution that this was in the exchange and sharing of information. Email followed suit: I remember in my first job in the late 1990s crowding round a computer to see the arrival of the first email. It was amazing thing to see.
Fast forward to now and screens of various sizes dominate our lives, pretty much 24-7. We carry data rich handsets with us everywhere we go and technology that is fast and reliable is the new normal. A majority of workers in the UK spend their days staring at screens, probably sending and receiving emails mostly.
Kids now are learning about coding, gaming, and lots of other things that I can’t quite understand; which is important to maximise the usage of technology for the benefit of them and society. Its as important now to learn about computing as it was in my day but I’m starting to wonder about the real importance of those non tech based soft skills…such as talking to each other or spending hours building things with lego bricks. We need to inspire kids to dream and to think and not feel that they have to fill ever minute of their day with screen based activity.
I have a sneaky suspicion that in the new fragmented and ever changing world of work its the kids that can think creatively unaided by technology that will stand out from the crowd. In the same way as my generation had to equip itself with the necessary IT skills we might end up teaching children about creative thinking, disruptive ideas and how to be inspired by imaginative non-technological play.