Search engines play one of the most significant roles in our technologically enabled lives by shaping how we conceptualize and interact with information, knowledge, wisdom, and arguably reality itself. They are our externalized reasoning machines, both facilitating our access to knowledge and quickly becoming our knowledge. They are where we go to research, clarify, and…
I think this where the importance of teaching our children how to look things up the “old fashioned” way becomes critical to developing a critical thought process. I was very lucky to grow up in a “look it up” household right before the dawn of giants like Google. Whenever I asked my family a question, they told me to look it up. I had to learn how to use an Encyclopedia and a dictionary. I also had to learn how to work the Dewey Decimal system and reference rooms at the local library.
By the time that search engines became a thing, they made my work easier for sure. Number one, because it was right at my fingertips, number two because I developed the critical thinking skills necessary to form my own opinion based on what was being offered up.
What do you think? Should youth learn how to access material the “old-fashioned” way? Or are those days long behind us?
I recently had the pleasure of attending a well-coordinated event designed to connect educators, youth, and the workforce. The premise of the event was simple – show 8th graders alternative career paths in addition to four-year colleges. The event showcased a local technical school and programs geared towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in manufacturing, welding, drafting, machine shops, 3D printers, etc.
The day started with a 30-minute video that showed real people working in STEM jobs. The examples used were snowboarding, race car driving, rock music and a transport vehicle in a 3rd world country. The individuals in the video were exactly who you are thinking of when we talk about techies. They were mostly middle-aged and young professional white males.
Although the video tried to use contemporary examples to appeal to youth, I still think they may have missed the mark. As I was scanning the room full of students, I realized that they do not look like the people in the video. 50% were not white, and 10% were female. I noticed this throughout the day-long event. The difference in demographics was also reflected back in the volunteers for the day, the learning videos provided in the classroom sessions, the teachers, and the student body of the technical school.
So my question became two-fold. How can we reach children without role models that reflect their demographics, and how do we increase diversity in STEM? And further, is the 8th grade too late to prepare children to embrace a career in STEM if they have not focused on Math or Science?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.