As we discuss teaching technology to kids, we can often operate under the potentially faulty assumption that what we believe to be true is a widely held point of view. In reality, for any hypothesis that are often well-reasoned arguments both for and against a position. At that point, it becomes necessary to conduct an experiment to show whether the argument is demonstrably true or false. One of the key challenges with show me the data when it comes to kids education is that it becomes increasingly difficult to course correct at the point the conclusion emerges decades later. At the point, we are expecting our children to hit the ground running; we may realize that they don’t have skills that are currently in demand for most employers.
For example, if the argument is that we should teach kids how to build with technology so they can make an impact on the world when they are professionals then if someone takes the counterfactual; then that adult who is now currently a kid is going to be playing lots of catch up. One could argue that we have already seen this play out with recent college graduates. There are those who did not study technology related fields as undergraduates. At some point, there was a realization that these skills were important. As a result, a bunch of adult ‘learn to code’ bootcamps popped up to fill this gap. Unfortunately, the expectations did not quite match reality. Many bootcamps overpromised and underdelivered on the ability to quickly develop a skillset that can take years of educational investment.
More recently, a new breed of technology institutions have launched and are rapidly growing which are moving from a short duration, high tuition model to one in which the education takes longer, albeit still accelerated, and the payment is deferred. In essence, these organizations are willing to share the risk that they can help develop a student’s skills to such a level that they will ultimately receive the deferred tuition once the student lands a well paying job in technology.
The inherent challenge with both of these models is that they are going back to shore up a deficient skill. As a result, there needs to be a laser focus on technical skills that are needed right now versus over the balance of a career. In addition, there is also quite a bit of educational debt that must also be repaid before these skill changers are able to achieve the American Dream. The reality is, for some subset of the population, it’s not realistic to level up their skills if they need to stay current on their bills.
On the other side of the coin is the idea that it is better to invest in developing technology skills gradually over time. In this state of the world, if tech continues its economic and professional dominance, the child who will eventually become an adult will be well prepared professionally. This would seem to be the more rational and logical approach. However, as we previously discussed, it can be pretty hard for people to effectively plan for the long term especially if they aren’t quite sure that technology is going to be a useful skill.
Perhaps, there is a 3rd approach that recognizes the longer term impact of technology while also providing the right preparation without parents feeling as though they are pigeonholing their kids into a career in technology. As we see it, technology is the most efficient and effective platform to positively impact the world across a wide variety of industries. However, specific technologies are notoriously fickle and can often change quite dramatically in a very short period of time. Raise your hand if you predicted the meteoric rise of cryptocurrency?
In essence, what should be valued most with kids education is a focus on creative problem solving. We believe that those who are able to develop this skill will be most successful going forward. Utilizing technology as a platform for this learning and development is our preferred approach at Digital Adventures. However, what is most important is that this skill is cultivated in kids over the long term as this will allow kids to learn, unlearn and relearn as they progress throughout their careers.