Technical Dunderkinds

Wayne Leavey, the principal at the Toronto District School Board, labels his adult generation as “digital immigrants,” describing today’s students as “digital natives” – a clan of young learners who have grown up on Facebook; smartphones all but physically adhered to their hands.

“It’s a true partnership between teachers and students. Our kids know an awful lot about technology and I think we need to embrace that in teaching, by learning from them,” says Leavey. 

Thank you Wayne. Interesting viewpoint you have there… Woefully misguided, but interesting.

Consider this alternative perspective. Less populist, but closer I suspect – to the truth.

The Raspberry Pi [credit-card sized computer] may not be slick, but it has managed to stir something not seen in British computing for a generation: it’s inspired a culture of making things with computers, not just experiencing things. 


“…The number of people who want to read computer science at Cambridge University has dropped by 50 percent within the last ten years. And the quality of people we’re getting is not as good as it used to be.” Says Jack Lang: Raspberry Pi Foundation chair, developer of the BBC Micro in the 1980s and Entrepreneur in Residence at Cambridge University Computer Science Laboratory. 

“Kids these days download, they don’t program,” Lang says. “They need a toolkit and a curious grandmother – someone to say, ‘That’s nice dear, show me more.’”

“People are just using their computers [and phones] as devices to consume stuff that a small and shrinking pool of other people have developed. The Raspberry Pi was hatched to create a BBC Micro for this new era.”

So next time you regard youngsters as Potteresque wizards, because they can flutter their fingers across touchscreen devices. Remember the all-important distinction between consuming and creating. 

Those doing the teaching these days are better at this ’technology business’ than they’re giving themselves credit for. They do after all, create for a living – as opposed to consume.