Some half-baked thoughts inspired by tweets from #creat_ed

21 June 2013

I’m not at the #creat_ed conference today but I’m keeping an eye on the hashtag via Tweetdeck, while simultaneously working (plugging away a bit more on ActiveLit).

I said the other day that live tweeting a conference is probably pointless, and I still stand by that - it’s pretty hard to figure out what’s really being said when all you have to go on are 140 character snippets.

That said, the tweets still provide some interesting jumping-off points for a few random thoughts - which is pretty much what this blog is all about.

So, I’m not necessarily responding directly to the tweets here (as I don’t have the full context), but they made me think some things.

Obviously not - who thinks that’s a good idea? But understanding a bit about coding, and creating some small programs or games, helps with:

  • thinking about things logically - how is the computer going to interpret what I've written
  • thinking empathetically - how are people going to respond to the thing I've created, will they be able to understand how to use it? Is it useful or fun?

Plenty of benefit there, and you don’t need to go into too much depth in any programming language to get some results.

I think we have to encourage young people to figure this stuff out for themselves. If they’re going to succeed they need to be self-aware enough to identify the skills they lack, and determined and ambitious enough to go and acquire them. For education to be worthwhile, it shouldn’t be about teachers filling in the gaps for their students, but inspiring the students to seek out opportunities and make things happen for themselves.

Thinking about career paths and “climbing the ladder” seems a consequence of the factory line of the education process. Children go in at one end aged 5, and there is a clear set of steps and progression taking them all the way to 21 when they leave university. Then they are spat out and left to fend for themselves. People latch on to what they see as the “next step” they have to attain, possibly without considering whether it’s what they really want.

Why is it up to teachers to be entrepreneurial themselves? Teachers work in institutions with long traditions and clear hierarchies. People who are naturally entrepreneurial don’t work well in this kind of environment.