What about technology?

But but but... what about technology? Where are the computers in the classrooms? Don't you teach them how to code?

Hands up parents: who remembers learning how to write DOS programs in high school? I do. 45 minutes a few times a week we all sat in the computer lab and pecked away learning how to tell the computer to open or close a screen, move a cursor across the screen, or sometimes - very exciting - flash a surprise message. Yes, I know, I'm old (I bet some of you are wondering what the heck DOS stands for - sorry, couldn’t tell you).

I didn't pursue my education in computer programming, but I am not knocking that class. It was helpful to know how to use a computer and certainly how to type. And I am hopeful that there was a student in that class who was inspired to continue and explore the field of computers. However, I certainly was not limited by my disinterest and I am confident that my time could have been better spent.

The point is in this particular area of technology, the world is moving so quickly that what our learners work with now is not what they will be working with in the future. This is where the true benefit of those coding and robotics extracurriculars play a role: they emphasize problem solving and collaboration in a real world situation. Working with your partner to figure out how to make your robot cross the obstacle field requires communication, forward thinking, experimentation, and patience. These are the skills that we all benefit from and apply in multiple aspects of our lives. Fortunately, for those of us not as interested in robotics, we can develop them in so many different ways.

Technology is more than just computers and abstraction. Technology in our schools and homes include the dishwasher and laundry machines, the amps for the guitars, the balance scales, microscopes, and more. At its basic level, technology refers to the use of tools, both simple and complex, to improve people’s lives. Your children almost certainly know more about computers and mobile applications than you do…do they also know how to run a load of laundry, prepare and cook a meal, dial a telephone? Are they communicating, problem solving, experimenting, illustrating patience and perseverance, collaborating?

All to say, don't get too focused on the specific activities your child is drawn to or disinterested in. Consider the skills she will need for the future and how those are being built.

Anne Smith