Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Stupid "Tech-Savvy" Generation

The ABC7 Web site has a report on a recent study by Educational Testing Service on the skill levels "of adults born after 1980, aged 16 to 65, in 23 different countries." The bottom line is that, in the areas assessed, literacy, numeracy, and "problem solving in technology-rich environments," the United States has a secure position in the cellar. This does not seem consistent with the claim in the opening of the article that "the youngest Americans seem to be the most tech-savvy generation in history."

Consider, however, that this might not be an inconsistency. For better or worse, that "tech-savvy generation" is a generation that uses technology, rather than building it. Even if we factor in the purported success of Codeacademy in providing many of those kids with coding skills, that simply validates the (deliberately unattributed" observation I made in reporting on Codeacademy: "Any idiot can program a computer … and many of them do." It is one thing to write code and quite another to write code for the sake of building new technology or solving serious problems. For that, we need education, rather than Codeacademy; but before we have education we need of society and a government willing to recognize the necessity of quality education. Absent that, we had better start getting used to ourselves as the village idiots of cyberspace.

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