Code bootcamps and robotics programs — they’re a dime a dozen. Look at any school, after-school program, or library and you’ll see at least a handful in every one. Each claims to prepare kids for the next phase in life and learning, get them job-ready, prepare them for a successful college career.
And I don’t think any of them do what they say they’re going to accomplish.
At my undergrad alma mater (hello North Central College in Naperville!) we had a program called History of Ideas. This wasn’t quite a philosophy course, nor was it a history course — it was an honors program that sat somewhere in between the two.
In History of Ideas, you didn’t simply learn philosophical concepts — instead, you learned about the concepts as they emerged in their times. It gave context to complex ideas, and fostered an understanding of why the ideas were relevant when they came about. As a result, you come to understand that certain ideas are valuable at some times (and under some circumstances) and are worthless during others. Knowing how and when to apply an idea is just as important as the concept itself.
So there’s a difference between learning how to use a thing and learning how to apply the use of a thing. That’s the case with technology just the same as it is with philosophy. Learning to code isn’t useful without understanding how and when to apply the idea of coding.
We’re too focused on teaching kids how to use technology, and not focused enough on how technology works — in fact, how things work. We’re developing people who understand how to interface with black boxes without understanding what’s inside.
We are not masters of our own tools when we can’t describe how they work. They’re masters of us.