Sign language, music, and foreign languages aren’t the only trending patterns for children of a young age. Featured in a series of recent media reports, organizations are helping children of all ages experiment with logic and programming concepts.
In September 2013’s issue of Wired, “children as young as 4 are using a [basic programming] language to make robots perform household chores.” Read more in “Forget Foreign Languages and Music. Teach Our Kids to Code.”
Meanwhile, organizations such as the United States’ very own NSA, whose policies have come under high scrutiny in 2013 provide high school kids internship opportunities to crack secret codes- why? “They bring a different perspective and audacity to it that we hadn’t thought about in all the years of experience that we’ve brought to bear.” It’s like a sequence from Orson Scott Card’s very own Ender’s Game. Read more about the NSA’s high school internship program and their official stance on recent controversies and public questioning in 60 Minutes‘ feature “NSA Speaks Out”, first aired on December 15, 2013.
In less developed countries, experiments in education among young children include distributing tablets and providing problems with open-ended approaches toward solving them. In 2012, the One Laptop Per Child organization provided two African villages with tablets, but no instructions. They didn’t even unpackage the devices when delivered. Yet, within a few months, children in the village had discovered themselves just what the free-flow of information had to offer. Learn more in Technology Review’s article, “Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves”, featured in October 2012.
Yet for those communities where resources are scarce and supplying tablets to each student is not an option, “free-thinking” is a still a skill some are finding alternate methods to help mold, as featured in “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses”, Wired Magazine October 2013.
What does this all mean for the state of education and childhood development? These and many more case studies are clear evidence that the brain truly is very elastic and particularly able to adapt at a young age to a multitude of situations. The ways in which individuals learn continues to grow with new-found technologies and social experiments. Within a few years, these methodologies may very well become the standard, further challenging those of us who are educators, mentors, and parents to help and guide the leaders of tomorrow, our children- because our very own kids will, if they don’t already, understand technology better than we do.