TED Conversations

David Williams

Training Specialist , Arvato

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Is the increased maturity of children leading us to educate them wrong?

In modern first world culture children not have much more access to information through multimedia and technology. Censors are more lenient, mobile internet more prevalent, access to knowledge and people is easier than ever.

Children as a result are less likely to ask questions and may be more inclined to self educate in areas of curiosity and interest. Does this new access to to information that would be previously staggered and controlled mean that children are maturing quicker and education needs to account for this?

Adults learn because they want to or have to, unlike children can be told to, will this now change?

Do we need to take more form Andragogy to apply to our Pedagogies?


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  • Sep 10 2013: Your question contains a number of unsupported assertions.
    -- That there is a correlation between greater access to information and greater maturity. Greater access to information can mean information overload; exposure to more misinformation, error and manipulation; a filtering of information that tends to limit, rather than expand our understanding of , appreciation of, and ability to effectively utilize information.
    -- That censors are more lenient. There are many that would argue that concerns about offensive or hateful speech, the divisiveness around our most important social issues, and the litigious nature of so much of our society actually demonstrate that the censors are becoming less lenient rather than more.
    -- That ease of access is the same as access. (Actually, this is more an inference from what you have said than an actual claim on your part, but I believe it is a fair inference.) What is the evidence regarding what and how much young people are actually choosing to connect with of what is available and accessible?

    There will be little agreement about the right or wrong ways of educating anyone, regardless of the technologies involved in their lives. However, if the question is should educators consider the technological environment in which they and their students both now live as they develop and refine their teaching and learning strategies, then I would answer that of course they should, they mostly already do, and that mistakes will be made as they always have been.
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      Sep 10 2013: I think what schools already do may be very location specific. May I ask in what country you live?

      But your last point triggered a thought or concern I often have. That is, to be part of solving a problem, it is useful if not vital to get a sense of what is already being done. I feel like many who care deeply about education assume that the simplest and most obvious things have not been on the radar screen of those at the helm. Often popular understanding of what sorts of things are already happening is very far behind the times- sometimes decades. So a great deal of energy is expended in urging actions or pedagogical strategies that have long been quite standard but have not solved the problems at hand.

      Of course, as you write, there is great variety out there in what schools do. This variety is another thing that people often do not realize, thinking, rather, that everything is standard as if schooling in each country is one homogeneous and scripted system.
      • Sep 10 2013: Agreed.

        I live, by the way, in the Northeastern United States.
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi David, you bring about some interesting points but I'm not sure i agree with them all.

      Firstly from a psychology perspective maturity is defined as the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner, a response that is learned rather than instinctive. Would you not agree that the availability of more information naturally leads to a correlation where the greater the information and the greater the maturity, this is even visible in distinguishable patterns of play from children in more media and high information based societies. I agree there is plenty of misinformation, but we shouldn't underestimate children's ability to distinguish between reliable sources.

      In regards to the censors that may be a cultural perspective. I am form Ireland and until recent year as a catholic based country without separation of church and state our censor ship board consisted of a priest, 2 nuns and a teacher. We moved away from this and in the last 10 years we have had an influx of previously R rated materials in mixed media formats and the age limits have been reduced across the board, 18s is now 16s, etc.

      The ease of access is an excellent point however and the consideration of just because they have the access, doesn't mean they use it, and that is something i would defiantly need to consider more.

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