Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Digital native
Above is a picture of Levi Jackson Pearson, my great grandson.  He’s holding what he is pretending (at 17 months) is a cell phone. Levi is part of the generation of digital natives. It’s likely he’ll be texting before he starts kindergarten, easily handling an ipad- or whatever new thing replaces it in the next few years.
Yetta and I were at the Consejo de Lecto-escritura de Guatemala’s Ninth International Literacy Conference last week. Cell phones are cheap there and even poor kids seem to have access to them, by hook or by crook.
Human beings need to connect – we’re social animals that cannot survive by ourselves. And modern technology makes it possible to connect easily over small or great distances.  While we were in Guatemala we skyped  (new verb) with family in Edmonton Alberta and Houston Texas. Levi, now 19 months looked at our screen images and said distinctly “Who’s that?” And it didn’t cost us anything to connect.
I draw two major lessons from all this.
1.       The distinctions between oral and written language are now completely blurred
2.       With access to connecting  digital devices kids will learn to read and write as easily as they now learn to speak and listen. Many are already doing so. What will be important in the future is access. In the United States access is controlled and expensive.
What that means is that those with access will be ahead of those without access. So the gap between rich and poor will widen.
We need to begin a campaign to level the playing field.
1.       We need to make cell phones non-proprietary as they are in most of the world.
2.       There needs to be universal access to hi-fi. The ether should be as available as air and water
3.       Schools need to recognize the digital natives and support and further their new competence.
We need to fight even harder to against 19th century curriculum and medieval methodology.
Power to the little people!