Before you consider everything I wrote in this article, try this experiment for one day. Look around, observe and make notes of all the children you see in one day. Mention in your one-day journal what each child is doing.
From my experience what you’ll see is children on their phones checking social media, watching Youtube content, listening to podcasts or music. Children waiting for busses, working in bookshops or libraries and accessing huge amounts of content online. Children googling, checking sports scores and stats while watching a game. Waves of Wi-Fi and satellite signals, text messages, Bluetooth and radio waves surround them every day because we are literals living in an ocean of digital signals and information.
In this information age, thinking skills are definitely growing in importance. Today, more information that anyone could use in several lifetimes is freely available at one click distance and many ten-year-olds carry smart devices and can access the internet with voice command. The big question for parents and educators today is what can children do with all of this information? I’ve gathered a list of questions I found very useful for our family in becoming more aware of how we help our son develop skills and competencies in this information age.
- Can your child find reliable sources?
- Can she/he work online and be mindful of safety and security?
- Can she/he organise information into more complex forms?
- Can she/he synthesise multiple perspectives to create informed opinions?
- Can she/he reframe issues in order to generate new and innovative ideas?
- Can she/he create innovative solutions to our current ecological or social problems?
- Can she/he work collaboratively with people from different cultures or age groups?
For our children to be successful with these challenges, they need to be taught concrete skills. You can start small and you can start at home. They will learn best in safe and brave environments. Gradually, they can be challenged in a collaborative learning laboratory where they can courageously take risks, negotiate with others their ideas and improve collaboratively on those ideas.
You can use learning tools such as a simple Conversations Cube. Check the How People Learn Cube for inspiration. If you are a parent, every night before saying “good night”, toss the cube and share your thoughts. If you are a teacher, invite learners to toss the cube and share their thoughts. In time, you can transform the conversation into a Pros vs Cons debate model, in which the speaker provides arguments for both perspectives and approaches on the same topic.
These conversations make my day, let me know what you have discovered or learned.
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