We will go back to our series on trade shows next week. While we do not usually weigh in on anything other than marketing ideas and best practices, the day after the SOPA and PIPA protests highlighted an issue that we could not ignore. The loss of basic skills among our young people may have a bigger impact on business in the coming years than the actual legislation, whatever its final version might be.
In a year that has seen protest all around the world, complete with all of their news analysis, pictures and upheaval, this protest stands out in my mind as the one that was most unified in its mission, and in many ways the quietest. By quietest I do not mean that there was no following or mass protest going on, just there was no rioting in the streets, no tents and no politicians screaming at the protesters, at least not yet.
While making an impact on a number of lawmakers who were suddenly back peddling late in the day on Wednesday the 18th, the rhetoric was to a minimum, and the name calling almost non-existent. The debate almost civilized.
What was not so civilized was the name calling tweets from students who no longer know how to open a printed encyclopedia and use an index. What was full of name calling were the tweets from kids too lazy to figure out any other way to get their homework done. Have they tried the library?? They do still house books there, and one can, with a bit of skill, look up the necessary information. Name calling not necessary. In fact the ability to communicate without resorting to name calling is in and of itself a critical skill.
While the grown-ups debated the limits of free speech versus the need to protect intellectual property, a valid discussion, the younger generation, those who should be poised to be the next generation of leaders, moaned their fate and perhaps highlighted one of the biggest failures of our current education system, we are not teaching kids how to think any more.
If we are not teaching kids how to think, how will they innovate, how will they even attempt to solve the next generations problems? Innovation and problems in medicine, the economy, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure and the list goes on. If you have never learned how to think, how to investigate and research something, how can you even hope to begin to find solutions.
I hope both educators and their students as well as parents and lawmakers will view these impolite tweets as a wake up call to one of our most pressing problems and it goes much deeper than whether or not Wikipedia was available for last night’s homework session. It highlights the “me, here and now” focus of our young people, they did not join the protest looking ahead to how this might impact them in the future, they rather looked and said ” I can not do my homework, NOW and easily” Have we lost the idealism and the practicality along with the practical research skills?
Let’s hope that these protests will not only prompt a new look at the legislation, but that it will also get our young people to take an honest look inward and fuel their growth.
Here is a round up of some of the news coverage: