David Williams

Training Specialist , Arvato

This conversation is closed.

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: i think that the only adjustment needed in response to the internet is teaching students how to check on the sources of information and the reasons that this is so important.

    i would liken the internet and the much heralded "information age" to panning for gold. there's a lot of mud and dirt to sift through in order to get to the valuable stuff - this is why it's vital for parents to monitor their child's access to the internet.

    i think that the "information age" could be more accurately termed the "Opinion and Propaganda Age". More than ever, young people need the support and guidance of those around them to make sense of the overload.

    i guess schools should be teaching kids how to source relevant and valid information and also how to check the validity of the source through research and comparison.
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      Sep 11 2013: Amen! No matter what advances Technology makes Critical Thinking skills are essential.
  • 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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    Sep 10 2013: This is the trend can never be reversed. Children with easier access to info,it is a double-edged sword, which means more free knowledge to be exposed to children. The downside of easy-fetching info is children have little wisedom and life experience to pick what is they truly need.
  • Sep 29 2013: I think there are 2 separate issues here.

    Having access to information at a younger age does mean accelerated maturity in many things, inevitably. Therefore you should definately RESPECT the younger minds more, because they may be much better researchers than you are, and will increasingly prove you wrong more often.

    But education is a separate issue, in my mind. First of all because of the accelerated gain in knowledge, their absorption may not be able to keep up, they may make deductions and decisions without fully understanding what they have been exposed to. Secondly the readily available limitless information out there means no boundries, and therefore no directions in one's research.
    This is where you come in (as the more chronologically advanced, and hence, the 'wiser').
    It is your role as the educater to guide this new generation in both their directions and thier understanding of the concepts they are researching.

    My approach is the opposite (and I might be completely wrong).
    Treat all adults like children, rather than treat children like adults. Even in adult education, start from the assumption that they don't understand the subject, work out where yours and their understanding of the subject branches, and who has more knowledge at that point, and fill in each others gaps.
  • Sep 11 2013: David, my opinion is that just because kids are searching for knowledge doesn't mean they are maturing. Knowledge is a dangerous thing and must be guided. Society builds up knowledge according to what is "safe" and "acceptable". Multimedia technology while is a godsend to education, is a disaster in immature minds.
    I remember a story about a kid who was obsessed with nuclear reaction. Using information from the internet he was able to extract enough radioactive materials from common electronics and actually set-up a nuclear reactor in his garage. He panicked when he realized the reaction was getting out of control and shut it down but not before he was exposed to very high levels of radiation. Too many unrestricted knowledge can be very dangerous indeed... not all kids who explore the internet have the kind of maturity to handle such information.
  • Sep 11 2013: Filling your brain with knowledge about the world, especially from the internet, does not equal maturity.

    Children still need a great deal of guidance to understand what it is they are seeing and learning. I would argue that they actually need more human contact and greater understanding of how to interact with each other. That is something that should be put back into the curriculum.
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      Sep 11 2013: Hi Everett, i absolutely agree with your point about guidance but is what your describing not more in tune with wisdom rather than maturity, in that although the younger generations may have a heightened intellectual maturity they do not necessarily have the wisdom in how to appropriately apply it?

      And you interaction point is a great one, because from m studies i genuinely do believe that in this information age we are losing the social interaction skills that were previously developed over time and we need to consider how to we get people to learn them from digital social environments. In traditional schooling a bully could be held accountable and shunned or even defended against, in cyber bulling there is little if any backlash which can result in a feeling of immunity to the social norms, and sociopathic behaviour that is traditionally dismissed as trolling.
      • Sep 12 2013: I think in many ways it is both wisdom and maturity. I don't have a solid answer though. I don't know that our young children have a heightened intellectual maturity as much as a better skill set for finding information. They do not have the wisdom to apply it though.

        Our kids are being forced to grow up very quickly, assimilate knowledge, develop skills, but they aren't given the skills to evaluate what it is that they are learning at a rapid enough pace to keep up with what they are researching. For example, kids know how to search the internet and find ANYTHING that they want. They also know how to skirt filters, bypass parent controls, and work around any block that is put in their way if they want too. That is a maturity issue but also a wisdom issue. The consequences would provide wisdom, but often, there are no consequences.

        I am mostly concerned with the disconnect from reality that we are seeing. Kids, and adults in all honesty, are disconnecting from each other as they delve deeper into a surreal world of technology. Reality has become what they see on the computer screen. That, to me, is a major issue.

        I also see teachers assuming higher levels of maturity, and wisdom, than previous generations, assuming that students are more advanced than what they are. The skill sets, for social skills, are being ignored in teaching which will have devastating consequences for those who immerse themselves in the world of technology.
  • Sep 11 2013: Although children become more mature, but they still have the nature of being a child. So adults do not take it seriously. They just deal with this problem as usual. What is the most important thing is showing respect attitudes towards them. Because why some teenagers go in a wrong way is attributed to feeling that they do not be included in some part of the society. So our mature attitudes should be preceded, I think!
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    Sep 10 2013: In relation to your closing question of whether the principles of Andragogy should be applied to the pedagogy used for teaching children, I will paste here the principles of Andragogy from the wikipedia link Mary included below:

    Knowles' theory can be stated with six assumptions related to motivation of adult learning:[1][2]
    Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)
    Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).
    Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).
    Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness).
    Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).
    Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).

    I could be wrong, but I believe ANYONE trained as a teacher in the last twenty years in the United States has been taught to build their young students' learning experiences around these same principles. The focus on these principles in modern pedagogy is not related to access to computers/cell phones but rather to what research now indicates about how children learn best.
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      Sep 11 2013: Hey Fritzie,

      i think you hit the nail right on the head here with your in the US statement. Ireland and a lot of mainland Europe has a lot of traditional and legacy teachers who do not adopt these techniques. They are rejected as the believe that they are and always will be the subject matter experts and never respect the independent skills of learning of class room participant. A few places like the UK have developed more modern educational approaches but this is not the case in all the countries here and we are starting to feel the repercussions in the private sector as candidates are not developing the right skills during their educational lifecycle.

      There was a recent study of the top 100 3rd level education institutes in the world and not a single Irish institute had made the list as we hand not been involved in the education of any major directors from the worlds leading companies. I use Ireland as an example but Europe itself needs an educational reform.
    • Sep 11 2013: You really got to the root of it Fritzie.............yes, our training here appears to be centered around these same principles, regardless of the age of the students.

      That is why so many of us focused on the word maturity, verses pinpointing what you have stated.

      Thank you.
  • Sep 10 2013: I would only point out that the definition you give talks about the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. Quantity of information doesn't necessarily lead to the ability to respond appropriately, though it is quite possible that most young people have sufficient ability to respond appropriately. This is one of the main reasons that education needs to deal with these concerns. My views on censorship are from a northeaster U.S. perspective. I can understand how the changes in Ireland have led to an increase of questionable materials, especially since the internet is international is scope.
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    Sep 10 2013: Of course education needs to take into account kids' digital habits and resources and to tap into the advantages these resources offer as well as to offer guidance for the digital world. Are you saying that in Ireland schools or the jurisdictions within which they fall have not been adapting to the "digital native" over the last couple of decades?

    Was it thirty years ago that Apple computer started giving computers free to schools?

    I think the digital environment in which kids live is very much taken into account in how teachers approach subjects and communicate with kids and parents, how students learn about data collection, what sorts of conversations schools have with kids about safety, tools they are expected to bring to class, and so forth.

    It would have made no sense, in my view, to ignore these technological changes over the last twenty or thirty years that schools have been integrating themselves with the practical implications of the technological environment.

    Schools need to continue to move with changes in the world.
  • Sep 20 2013: No, i don't think so.Yes, they are becoming mature very soon.But they knew their selves, their limits, their role to the society.They are not kid, if they ruined something they are aware about how to fix it.
  • Sep 19 2013: Instead of looking at it leading us to educate them worn look at it as it is only broadening the horizon of things we can educate them in such as the complex workings of international relations, economic patterns, and certain humanity studies
  • Sep 11 2013: I think we all know children that are more mature than what we think they should be (probably at the cost of their childhood) and adults of all ages who would put a kindergartner to shame.

    To me maturity is exhibited when someone uses their intelligence, experience, knowledge (from learning and some even from the educational system -8>)) to make the appropriate action for the society that individual is in. Since children with access to the internet, they would seem more mature in certain situations. The addition of intelligence means that individuals that can deduce an action.
  • Sep 11 2013: i dont think we are blurring the lines between maturity and wisdom.. I am quite confused with the question. It may depend on how you define these two words David.

    However just as a primer my idea is this.. You may have all the information in your head, taken from the internet (knowledge) ... but how you use it depends on your life experience and maturity (wisdom).
    I got this definition of wisdom over the net:
    "The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
    The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment."

    I know of a kid (4 years old) who can recite the names of the countries by looking at their flags.... but what it all means is empty to the kid. He/she just knows the names... politically, he/she has no idea what those flags really mean. No good judgement, no experience, no way of measuring the "soundless of an action/decision" I don't know how to fit that kid as mature.

    If that same 4 year old kid somehow has the knowledge/experience enough to become a diplomat as a 4 year old... i am willing to call that kid mature.
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      Sep 11 2013: Ok, Jeff, i see your point, but I'm going to have to disagree because maturity is not about the wisdom or how information or knowledge is used, it is just that you have the information to use it. Not so much to do with wisdom, but more its about being made to for and informed decision. Life experience and wisdom and ethical understanding of such information in decision making in not in anyway related to the maturity of the individual.

      This is where i believe the lines are blurred. In our common daily discussions i agree that all these factors are how we view maturity, but this is wrong. Maturity is a psychological word to describe the ability to appropriately respond to any environment. That response is learned through knowledge and information.

      For example, I don't need to put my hand in a fire to know that I will burn my hand. In the choice of not doing so i have made a mature decision. This ability is now stretched with online information to make decisions from what is popular to wear to or is it ok or not it is ok to commit suicide (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130610124201AAX4oKX), this is the type of discussion being had online buy people of all ages, and regardless of the ethical and social impact of the decisions, is the fact they can research them and judge for themselves not the very definition of maturity?
      • Sep 11 2013: David, and i see you point too. I suspected earlier we differ in interpreting the definition of maturity and wisdom. You were interpreting maturity in the psychological definition. And I believe you are correct
        .
        However, just consider this in your quest for the answer.. while maturity is not bound by age but rather by how much information is known and used to make an informed decision, consider that wisdom shapes that knowledge/information into a tool that can be used more precisely. Wisdom to me is a fine-tuning device. And this is something you only get from much experience in life.

        While wisdom is supposed to be learned through experience, i figure there are a lot of people who share their experience online. What used to take years to learn can be somewhat shortened by listening/reading information by those who had the same experience, and in effect gain wisdom.
        This does blur the lines.

        Its an interesting concept.. for adults this isn't a problem. I don't know if learning children will be able to apply the same method though. Teens yes... not sure if children are ready to sift through all that information the way it is presented over the net.
  • Sep 11 2013: Saw the article link.. that was a success story.. the one i read about didn't turn out very well. Its not about the risk or anything. These kids should be guided. As I mentioned earlier... some kids are more mature, some kids are however not ready. And just like in one of the post i mentioned teens are teens... they still need more life experience about the true nature of the world. Some of them definitely have been exposed to the realities and good for them they had a head start to life outside the school district.

    I think we should be aware of the risk...not afraid. However, this only applies to students who explore on their own without any care regarding the potential effects of what they do. Most of the time, kids like those who built nuclear reactors probably did so under some kind of guidance. Guidance is not all bad. Its just a way to ensure that the ideas are still grounded in "moral correctness". You wouldn't want to work with an intelligent kid who has nuclear weapons production in mind.

    My view in the whole thing is education has to be guided... an intellectually/socially-mature student will eventually receive less guidance anyway because his "guide" will feel he's ready to approach the issue alone.
  • Sep 11 2013: More mature in some ways Less mature in others So you are assuming what you are trying to prove.
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      Sep 11 2013: I'm intrigued by your reply. Everyone is jumping on the word maturity. People seem to hate associating that word with younger generations, like its an affront to their own maturity.

      Can i ask how you see them as less mature now?
      • Sep 11 2013: people hate associating maturity with younger generations because they think differently. Just because you have all the knowledge in the world doesn't mean you have the capacity to act on it to better the world. And the reason why people hate the association is because we have been kids at one point. We know how we used to think.

        Maturity is not about knowledge. Its about staying in the world alive long enough to see how people interact, how people work their lives, how people bring changes to the world. If a kid can do all these things, then by all means he/she is probably mature enough to handle the world. But for the most part, the younger generation has to experience a lot of things, he has to experience hardship, work, following orders, and graduating to making decision for himself and others to improve society.
        This process doesn't take overnight.. I used to handle student interns.. and some just don't care about the kind of work they do. This is because they havn't experienced what its like to have their jobs, salary, means of livelihood to be on the line. They work when they want, and sloppily in some cases. Multimedia knowledge doesn't help in this case.
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          Sep 11 2013: But are we not blurring the line of wisdom and maturity when we think like this?
        • Sep 12 2013: I don't think I ;am as unfair as it might seem. They are very proficient with some tech items if allowed to be, but to understand food and sources of raw materials and manufacturing, etc. I think we all have a problem with that - Also, the personality tyupes may vary greatly independently of age. To evaluate someone like Lincoln who was virtually7 uneducated in the context of fifty years ago or today is incredible. Also, certain limitations of the human brain make me question our functioning with all the distractions. AQlso, greater complexity creates its problems. etc. etc. Let's develop this some more.
  • Sep 10 2013: For those not familiar with Andradogy......

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andragogy

    Your OP is fascinating...........how did you come up with the question? If I may ask?
    What else have you observed in today's youth?
    And what age groups are we talking about?..........5-10, 11-14, or 15-17+??
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi Mary, it is an idea that occurred to me as I'm working on my PhD and i was considering various impacts to learning scenarios. I work in adult education and specialize in policy and sensitive topics for a major internet and search provider, so in these include things like Child Safety and Adult content etc, where I've seen how things like sex education and racism are more open and visible topics which were traditionally hidden or at least controlled conversations. I see how 18 year olds are coming into work with more and more knowledge of these topics from self experience and exposure.

      Also in Ireland unfortunately we have had a recent influx of child suicides and where cyber bullying and such are very prominent and the maturity levels and more mature pressures have become more apparent for the younger generations.

      From my experience I was working with a group of 8 year old's recently from the UK where more than 50% of them had access to mobile devices.
      • Sep 11 2013: You know David, as a teacher of small children, I find that children are coming to school with a lot of knowledge......or at least a lot of access to knowledge.

        As for maturity........hmm.....I don't know.

        It's kind of a toss up for me.

        I think that children are being exposed to adult topics early on.....via technology......but, is it possible that they are not able to process all this information in a way that makes for healthy development? I don't think many of them truly understand what they are watching and listening to.

        I sure wish parents would think twice before exposing their small children to all that is out there.
        It is kind of sad.

        Your question continues to be a fascinating one.........I do hope you are able to test out your theory somehow, and that once you publish your findings, you will be able to help education in one way or another.
      • Sep 11 2013: Let me come back and say that some older teenagers are indeed a bit more knowledgeable as to adult topics, and perhaps all the exposure through technology has in a way made them a bit more mature.

        Do you think perhaps that due to this we might be able to, lets say, start them off on a university degree or a technical career sooner?

        Or were you thinking of something else?
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          Sep 11 2013: Hi Mary,

          I don't think whats needed is to necessarily start work or college sooner, but to perhaps deal with people in an environment with more reasoning and respect of independent reasoning skills which could lead to a learning environment that encourages participants to surpass predefined learning objectives and really grow.
      • Sep 11 2013: David, having read what Fritzie stated above, and your reply to her and to me, now I am a bit more educated and enlightened as to what it is you are trying to do with the conversation.

        And as Fritzie has brought out, we already do this here in many schools......although sometimes individual teachers take matters into their own hands if they are a bit old school and haven't changed their ways and adopted the new pedagogy.

        Have you ever come to the United States and been involved in any kind of professional development workshops or educational courses?

        Sounds like perhaps you would enjoy these.........or perhaps visiting local schools?
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          Sep 11 2013: I have worked with professional development with a few US firms, as for schools my experience is limited to Ireland, England and Cambodia.

          Depending how I further this study an understanding would be great. In fact a comparative of the Asia/Europe/US would be quite interesting, as with the US being at the front of technology and technology based environments this could be a case of something that is already happened in the US and has yet to filter to other societies.
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    Sep 10 2013: Kids may know more but they are not more mature. Replace the phrase "maturity of" with "availability of information to" and I will agree we may be underestimating the baseline when designing curricula for our youth.
    • Sep 10 2013: You definitely have a point there Ed.........George Willsons kind of says the same thing below.
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        Sep 10 2013: My knee-jerk reaction to the statement, "Today's youth are more mature than previous generations.", is to say, "No way!!"
        • Sep 11 2013: Ed, I hope you come back and read some of the other comments, things are getting clearer.
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        Sep 11 2013: RE: "Ed, I hope you. . . ". Thanks for the heads-up. A stimulating, vigorous debate for sure. I still think the "E" in TED should stand for Education rather than for Entertainment. TEDsters care about the subject of educating our youth. Too bad so much of the energy on this very relevant post is being spent on a semantic distraction. Will follow.
        • Sep 12 2013: Yes Ed, I also think that the E should stand for Education.......it sure comes up a lot doesn't it?
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      Sep 10 2013: I know a lot of people will see maturity that way, but by maturity don't we mean the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. Decision making skill no less, which of course would be improved with more information?
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        Sep 10 2013: If you redefine the word maturity to mean the level of rational, effective decision making then my suggestion is moot. Is there a necessary correlation between available information and decision making skill?