Friday, November 11, 2011

Are You Smarter Than Your Phone? Or your Kids?

Your smartphone is probably infinitely smarter than you.

Not to worry, you got it on the longevity scale, but still, do you feel insignificant or like you are in remedial life?

There are sites to show you how to do so many things, do you ever use them? Do you even look for them?

Do you understand in any way shape or form how email works? SMS(texting for you non-techies)? Web Sites? Your Phone Apps? For that matter, your phone?

Do you care? Should you care? Does it matter?

What if no one knew anything anymore because it was all "online"? The Matrix movies were all about downloading information into your brain to even fly a helicopter with a few clicks of a download. As an aside, I remember IBM giving out Matrix DVDs to promote KM, Knowledge management.

The road less traveled is now growing weeds.

I have argued that iPhones make people stupid. The truth is they enable one to access information but do you really grok what you are reading? And is this how you want your kids to learn too? Think about that last this how you want your kids to learn too?

Too early for a definitive answer about the pros and cons. What we do know is the future is NOT that hunk of hardware you call a laptop or desktop or server. It is the Cloud. Tablets more likely, but at least for me, a keyboard.

When your kids ask you why the sky is blue or how rainbows are made or anything, what do you do? Do you answer them in kids terms or adult terms? Do you make them look it up? Or do you first ask them what they think and work with their logic process? Maybe a little of each of these?

Or do you make something up or just brush off the question?

What message do you send your kids when you do this? Would you treat your customer or employee, or worse, your employer that way?

Parenting is expanding, or as some point out, returning, to the original ways, namely something akin to home schooling.

If you are or could be your kids teacher would you? It's not for everyone. If not, do you complain when school is not meeting what you feel your kids need?

Are your ideas of education still last centuries, which was in some cases the previous centuries? Or as you have progressed have your views on education?

Are schools teaching your kids what they need to know? Are you so sure? If you don't think so, then get involved. Push for more, ask for more, within reason and budget.

Otherwise your phone really may be smarter than you and your kids.


  1. It's funny that you mention education in your post. My son (22) definitely came of age in the technology age. He's never known life without email, and really cares not how it all works - so long as it does.

    I'm a Wintel/Notes/Exchange/Content Management expert, so when faced with a MacBook Pro with disk writing issues (his) I just Googled it up, fixed the problem (OSX version of checkdisk) and handed it back to him. He was amazed. I was SO FREAKIN SMART! :) I enjoyed my moment in the sun, because everyone knows that parents are hopelessly stupid.

    Conversely, it was rather alarming to me that instead of Googling the error himself, he just stomped around using foul language about that "foreign piece of crap" laptop. I stopped him and pointed out that the information was far more readily available to anyone who takes the initiative to ASK THE QUESTION than ever before.

    He did ponder that for a minute, and then he asked me, "Is that how you got so far in your career without an education?". You betcha!

    So machine learning isn't the problem, per se, it's that the kids aren't asking the questions.

  2. Shell,
    That is my point. But it is also that parents, unlike you or I, do not ask the right questions to steer the kids to think more for themselves.
    Maybe it's that tech/engineer guy inside us keeping the inquisitive nature or the "how to fix this" thoughts alive.
    In my neighborhood, people outsource changing their light bulbs and not just the 20 foot ceiling ones. I feel sad about those kids. If you are loaded with money and do not teach your kids enough then they will lose all your money.

  3. We all want to assume that "think for themselves" is a vital goal of schools for their "academic inmates", yet it is not -- in fact, if anyone were tasked with designing an institution to rapidly break and prevent young people from "thinking for themselves", the result would be almost identical to our notion of schools, today.

    In our schools, private or public, how often are young people left to make their own choices, to ask their own questions?

    Everything is pre-ordained, to guarantee unthinking dumbness -- curriculum, classes, teachers, textbooks, homework, quizzes, tests, grades -- all geared to there is no room left for any individual freedom or choices (except for the degree of obedient kowtowing to the arbitrary authority of "The System".

    All Hail Education!

  4. Tawmess,
    I agree, thinking for themselves is not always taught or encouraged by teachers or administrators.
    My kids tell me the art teacher made them redo their work because they did the assignment their way, not her way. It's ART!
    So yes, education is not always what is cracked up to be.
    Keep the teachers guessing and learning form you as much as you can.

  5. "Insidious" -- that is an apt word, for the hidden nature of schooling. Don't want to believe me? Look for the tome on the subject -- "The Underground History of American Education", by John Taylor Gatto (it is available, complete, on his website.)

  6. Yes, Keith --

    Pity the teachers -- all with big hearts -- yet with less freedom than the captive young people, and captive themselves within tight economic chains -- all which surprisingly keep us working, obediently and fearfully.

    All this is part of the messy problem, of why young people are adrift in life -- with no expertise or enthusiasm even, after 12+ years of "schooling".

    It is in the classrooms, where our collective futures are created -- freedom there, is the vital freedom for us all!

    -- Thomas

  7. Thomas, In the UK they make them pick a direction around 6th grade. not sure I like that better but each has it's benefits and detractions.
    Luckily I can answer my kids questions without Google's help. But then there is always a side that says learning anything different is worth it's weight in gold. Schools, because of politics or money or both don't have the choices.
    Working to help them best I can.