Last night as my younger son slept and my wife read, I watched YouTube video after YouTube video with my 13 year old. It was our “movie night” and an illustration how the world today is very very different than the world we grew up in. Neither of my boys remember going to a video store to purchase our entertainment. Watching The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, and Gilligan’s Island type of shows broadcast over a television screen is not the way they unwind. My youngest does watch cartoons…on his mobile device. Most of us who didn’t grow up in this electronic age don’t really grasp its full impact on our world’s future. How could we? It is true, from my perspective anyway, that constantly being connected to entertainment options leads to more isolation and less interaction with others. As a parent who didn’t grow up this way myself, I question how these changes will impact our society when this generation grows up.
But there’s a flip side view of this radically different world than the one I grew up in. My son is entering high school tops in his class on his science placement tests. Last night along with the occasional “world’s greatest wipeouts” and “when animals attack” videos thrown in for diversion we bonded over science videos. Science! My son has watched hundreds of hours of science tutorials and explanations over the past few years and he was more than excited to show me his favorites. For the ones that weren’t way over my head, I actually learned something. All of them were entertaining, though especially to my son who is fascinated by all things science.
Now he’s had a class period devoted to science throughout his traditional schooling. No doubt he’s learned a lot from those units in school. I also have no doubt he’s learned a lot more on his own. It’s not even close. Whether it’s something he’s read about from a Google search, or watched with the aforementioned YouTube videos, he’s smart because of his time spent learning outside the classroom. What a different world indeed.
It’s been said you could become an expert in five years on any topic you desire to be by spending twenty minutes a day studying it. We did that by going to a library, my son has done it from the couch! Many of us over 40 still make sense of the world the way it was when we were growing up. True? It’s why we want our kids to get a college degree, to prove their worth to employers, and land a good job. As an employer myself today, I could care less if someone who works for me has a degree or not. What I do care about though is what someone is passionate about. My son is well on his way to becoming an expert in science. He’s in love with the periodic table and elements! There’s no question it’s nature versus nurture with him. I grew up with a net and a bucket catching frogs and turtles. He’s growing up with CGP Gray YouTube videos. If he’s not going to be a scientist than I could easily see him being a science teacher. Here’s the crux of my point. Should he need to go to college to get a teaching degree to be hired by a school to teach science? Unless our society believes a degree trumps passion and knowledge in a teacher for ultimate effectiveness I don’t see why. The world’s a very different place. It’s about time us older folks acknowledge it with a paradigm shift regarding how one learns and educates oneself today!
Here’s a final thought about our changing world and proof an old dog can learn new tricks. I’m writing this post from a busy lobby in another country, but I can’t hear all the commotion. I can’t hear anything besides Neil Diamond screaming “Forever in Blue Jeans” streaming in from outer space via my Pandora app. Still I’m literally writing using a pen and actual paper as that’s what I grew up doing. But when I’m done I will take photos of what I wrote and email it to my Executive Assistant back in the states for her to type up. It will than get posted to our website, shared via Facebook and Twitter and even flipped into my Flipboard magazine, The Pond Guy’s Blog.
Our world is different. We need to be different too if we want to be part of it.