Doing what is familiar
Posted November 18, 2015on:
Look at this image. Now judge it.
Neither statement is necessary because we are visual creatures and prone to focusing on what is obvious.
Most people will tsk-tsk if they find out that the kids in the photo were messaging each other even though are an arm’s length apart.
But I would caution that we not judge lest we be judged. Why? I will tell you a story first.
Two years ago, educators from Korea flew to Singapore to attend my week-long series on game-based learning. When I gave them work to do, they used Google Translate to process my questions in English in their native Korean.
Most wrote in Korean and translated the answers back to English for my benefit. Side note: They also played K-pop music during breaks to bring a little bit of home to sunny Singapore.
Can we blame them for doing what they were familiar with? Definitely not, especially since doing that helped them think critically and reflectively while completing the tasks.
Most older adults prefer to talk to each other as they look each other in the eye. Most kids prefer to text. There are times and places where one or the other are more appropriate, but when the context is neutral, we gravitate to our preferences. We do what we grew up with and are conditioned to.
Who are we to judge when we would naturally use the language and tools we are most familiar with to communicate?
Imagine if I had forced my Korean guests to only speak and write in English. Neither of us would have learnt anything about each other or game-based learning. So why do we insist kids use books and pencils when they should be learning how to use their mobile devices in more powerful and meaningful ways?
I am not saying we should pander to the mobile inclination of kids. Adults are familiar with mobile phones too and we might even model the wrong types of behaviours. If we do not model responsible behaviour, how do we expect our kids to?
We should know better as adults, and if not, the boy in the video segment reminds us of that. We should know why we tend to do what is familiar. We need to teach ourselves when take advantage of this and when to avoid it.