Ban the Future

Kids do a lot of things that are annoying, but thankfully for the future of the human race, they do a lot more things that are interesting, or funny, or cute. Often, the annoying and the amusing are bound together like tangled string. There was this time when a few kids in one of my classes swapped around the keys on the keyboards in the computer room. Then there was this other time when a few of the mouseballs went missing. This was in the days when PCs and the Internet had just arrived, but before it had occurred to anyone that filters might be a good idea. Going into the computer room was appealing, but it was also like going into a battle zone. You were running to catch up with all the stuff that could go wrong. At the time, I was annoyed about the things the kids did with the lovely new technology, but it gave me some sharp lessons, and a rich source of funny anecdotes for the future. The main thing I learned was that you have to keep a close eye on kids if you let them loose with a shiny new toy. (This lesson has served me well as a parent.)

When I started writing, I had to go to the library to look things up. There was no proper Internet, no search engines, no other way to find things out. It’s been such a massive sea change, it was inevitable that the world of education would struggle to figure out how best to use it. There was always going to be a period of experimentation, because there is no other way to learn what does and doesn’t work with something completely new. But we can no more stop this stuff from influencing us than we can stop the tide from coming in. Life moves on despite, not because, of us. So maybe what would be good is to explore what is new, identify the best ideas from it, and then combine it with what we already do. Alternatively, we could just ban the future.

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