What we should also teach children about technology

In 1995, an American ruptured one of his eardrums in the elevator of the Sears Tower in Chicago. The elevator descended so fast that one of its ears couldn’t handle the air pressure difference.


What to do: adjust the elevator or your eardrums?

I stole this question from this piece by colleague Bregje Hofstede.


The answer is obvious – the elevator! The elevator! The elevator! – and that’s what happened: it would go down a little more slowly from now on. All’s well that ends well.


But if it’s up to the latest education plans, which should lead to a new curriculum in 2019, the answer could very well be your eardrums.


What we will teach children about technology

In recent weeks I have read a lot and talked to people about ‘digital literacy: what children should be able to do and know in an increasingly digital world. An important educational piece of advice 

You can find that educational advice here. about the curriculum of the future – Education2032 of the Schnabel committee – writes the following about this:


‘The Platform believes that students should learn to fully utilize the opportunities of the digital world. At the same time, they must be aware of the consequences of their media behavior.’


I often came across comments like those of the Platform in recent weeks. We have to teach children to use technology, but children also have to be aware of the dangers – that’s pretty much the sleep-inducing consensus.


We need to teach kids how to use technology, but kids need to be aware of the dangers too – that’s pretty much the sleep-inducing consensus

In order to be aware of the dangers, children must above all be ‘media literate’  to be. The Platform writes about this: ‘A pupil is media literate if he has an active and critical attitude towards his own media behavior and that of others.’ In other words: don’t believe everything on Facebook, sometimes turn off your smartphone and think of a secure password for your social media accounts.


Nothing wrong with that of course. I’m of the generation that jerked off behind their webcams who believed that HotBabe21 was really who she said she was, and we’d do well to avoid breeding a new generation of dick-pic driving fake news believers who consistently forget attachments to e to add emails.


But something is missing from those dangers: fundamental technology criticism.


According to the plans of the Schnabel committee, children should be critical of the media, but they should only learn to use technology.  In other words: let that elevator race, but tweak your eardrums.


What we also need to teach children about technology

What do I mean by ‘fundamental technology criticism’? All you have to do now is open the newspaper.


There was an interesting article in The Guardian last month 

You can read Naughton’s article here. by Irish Professor Emeritus of Public Understanding of Technology John Naughton. In it, he argues that the world needs a 21st-century Martin Luther who stands up to ‘the church of tech.’ Naughton describes himself as a utopian who is healing from the belief that the internet would change the world for the better.


Because: ‘Instead, a new generation of companies emerged that acquired an enormous amount of power. We watched as billions of people happily handed over their data and digital traces to companies that made money with it. We saw how the most creative minds did not liberate us but turned us into zapping couch hangers. We saw how governments designed the largest surveillance device in human history.’


Naughton is not alone in criticizing the polytheistic tech religion in recent weeks, with Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon as its gods.


Writer and philosopher Maxim Februari talked to Lex Bohlmeijer last week 

Listen back to the conversation with Maxim Februari here.on the limitations of technology. According to February, at the moment we are constantly pretending that we have discovered a new kind of miracle: that of technology that is completely value-free and that will optimize our world. February: ‘But all we have are completely ideological, morally colored data files and algorithms that are released by people who also put their own ideology in them.’


According to February, we would 

You can also read his Godwin lecture here. should recognize that data is ideologically and morally colored, and should talk about the direction we want our society to take. After all, efficiency is not an end in itself, it is about which direction society is moving in.


February: ‘That’s why the government of a country or a company needs direction, values, principles, moral arguments. That is why a political conversation is necessary […] in which you can disagree, in which you can argue about values ​​and come to democratic considerations.’


And again technology criticism

Such a democratic deliberation always leads to compromises that are not ideal for anyone. That is the message that Evgeny Morozov, today’s foremost technology critic, 

Read an interview with Morozov by colleague Maurits Martijn here. conveys in his work. He focuses on To save the world, click here against the ‘solutionism’ that dominates the technology industry: the idea that the world consists of problems that can be solved.

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