When I was a kid – and I’m not a young father – there was a technology schools called ‘the computer’, which was the go to piece of equipment for a teacher to please any parent. In fact it still is. Parents are always impressed by 20 ipads sitting in class vs 20 books. So let’s say that your current school gives your 1st grader time on an old school 5.5” floppy drive apple computer. I’m pretty sure you’d be outraged. “How could my kid keep up with the 21st century on that thing?!?!” You’d yell. And yet this whole generation of programmers had their first experiences on that. So it’s not the device itself. At a minimum, it’s the progression of technology over the years. But we have no idea where this technology will lead either and we didn’t in 1990 either. So I think we can draw some pretty good comparisons between that time and this one; even if the technology is different – the lesson is in how we deal with the unknown.
So what are the lessons from the 90s that are applicable? What should we be teaching in the area of technology?
I think one thing is that pretty clear is that information is ever more available at our fingertips than it was in the 90s when my father was selling encyclopedias. So in this area I found a good quote by Seth Godin who says, “What's the point of learning it if you can just look it up?” Search will become even easier. So we don’t need to teach kids to look up facts on Google. And while your school might, at least you as a parent can add onto that layer. So Seth Godin says, “The tough stuff will be the emotional labor” and what he’s talking about here is the soft skills. Technology will take care of itself. If you need to use Microsoft Word 2024 then I’m sure you’ll figure it out. But if you need to learn management of a team of software engineers scattered across the country: well, that’s not so easy. So if your child is in school, ask them this question: If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do? It starts to get them to think about leading, and controlling the future, and leadership is a quality that always pays.