We’ve all heard it, whether it be from parents or grandparents, “In my day…[insert typical groan about 21st century children].” Of course, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Every generation looks back at its childhood with glowing nostalgia and a knowing smile about why those days were better than today. But as we stand on the cusp of a new technological era, the gulf between today’s generation and those that have gone before is ever-more pronounced.
This was appropriately illustrated at a recent OPENGlasgow Future Makers coding event at Scotland Street School Museum. Young teenagers sat incongruously in a 1950s-style classroom with laptops and Raspberry Pis atop wooden desks complete with inkwells.
To Infinity and Beyond?
While the teenagers were busy coding, I had a look around an exhibition at the museum called The Games We Play which looks at the history of playing. One of the featured toys was a Buzz Lightyear figurine. The original Toy Story film was released almost 20 years ago when the technology we know today was in its infancy. Today, children have the opportunity to play with and understand incredibly powerful technology, as demonstrated by the 45 young teenagers who attended the Future Makers event. In the space of a decade or two, the concept of playing has expanded massively to include a whole new area of technological activity.
The Creative Aspect is Key
I spoke to Jake and Jackson, both aged 12, who regularly create code at school and at home. They use Scratch, which was set up by M.I.T. as a platform for young people to programme their own games and animations. The creative aspect is key; when talking about the coding they did, Jake and Jackson were most passionate about how creative, colourful and fun their games and animations were. When I asked the boys what they hoped to do in the future, they both said they would like to be computer programmers.
The rate of change in the technological world is extremely fast paced. In order to keep up, it seems inventiveness, imagination and creativity are crucial faculties to hold. Playing games is as relevant as ever. And playing with a Raspberry Pi counts.