Raising Children in the 21st Century: We’re Doing It Wrong (Again)
A couple years ago, while coaching peewee football, I asked one of my players (he was 10 at the time) to hand me a Philips head screwdriver so I could repair his helmet. He looked at me dumbfounded, as if I asked him to perform calculus on the spot. His friends who were close by were scrambling to get to their phones to even tell him what I was asking him to grab. 10 year olds. I looked at them half shocked, then took the time to teach them what a Philips head was, then showed them a flathead screwdriver, and they walked back on the field, chest out, like they had just won the world championship. This was of course after I repaired and checked the helmet before sending back out on the field.
I come from a hard-working family, who took pride in rewards after work was put in and produced results. This arrangement worked, until Final Fantasy 3 (6 for us in the know) and Chrono Trigger came out on the Super Nintendo, prompting me to really schedule time as a kid; since they would suck up so much free time, and I had to pull my grades out from the C range before I got my A kicked by my parents. They also made sure I was equipped with other practical skills I wasn’t learning in my daily life of private school. This included how to work certain appliances in the house (lawnmower, dishwasher, laundry washer and dryer, for example) and basic tools, and when my father passed, I looked to my uncle and brother to help me learn basic automobile mechanics, advanced cooking, cutlery, building/maintaining a fire, and so on.
Today’s average mid- to late-twenties American citizen is easily walking around with a high school diploma in hand. No generation, not even The Greatest by American lore, can claim that. Despite the very high graduation rates, many of these twenty-somethings only know life, and all of its intricate wonders once you’re kicked out of the safe institutions of the school environment via graduation, through their laptop or smartphone. Social media has come to dominate, well, how we normally socialize with people today.
My point is this: life skills are being overlooked in today’s modern society, both at school and at home. I am working to change that, by utilizing current and future gaming technology (future being virtual reality and augmented reality) both in and out of the classroom via web-based gaming applications to give kids a fun way to learn other things they can really use when they grow up. Because they’ll be web based, kids can play the games on their tablet at school (if one is provided), or on their phone, or gaming console with Internet access. I’ll even use the game to learn how to safely ride a bike, as my father passed right around the time he was teaching me.
I truly care about our future generations. I want them to better than me. They NEED to be better than me, so that we can truly find ways to become independent socially again, not co-dependent, as I see most kids these days becoming. Find ways to critically think and solve problems with the tools, or lack thereof, they are presented. It may even inspire me to be better than I was yesterday. Isn’t that what we all want, to be better?
We won’t get better through osmosis. We will only get better through testing ourselves, both in and out of the classroom. And I want to bolster kids’ current curriculum with games to help build these softer, practical skillsets. By using current technology to get back to traditional overall learning, we will become better people. I can’t wait to see what this future holds.