From the day he was born, my iToddler enjoyed watching Baby Einstein DVDs about colours and shapes, enjoyed the ‘Talking Tom’ cat Android app repeating his parents’ voices back in a high-pitched manner, and now loves dancing along to Nursery Rhymes streaming on YouTube. Is he being raised in a ‘digital culture’? Without a doubt.
The most interesting issue raised for me by the EDC MOOC was that of utopia versus dystopia: Francis Fukuyama’s ideology, that human nature and human ways of being are under threat by scientific and technological advances, is one that I have enjoyed debating via Twitter over recent weeks.
Fukuyama is best known as the author of The End of History and the Last Man (1992), in which he argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism, warning that our human ways of being are threatened by technology as it undermines the basis of our commitment to humanist ideas which underlie many educational philosophies and approaches to practice, such as equality, freedom and autonomy.
Is the ever-embeddedness of technology in our lives really such a bad thing? Is it as ‘dangerous’ as Fukuyama fears? I don’t believe that technology undermines who we are, but in fact enhances us and allows us to explain and express ourselves in ways never before possible, connecting us to others and making our everyday lives.
I do not yet know how my son’s iChildhood will turn out. No doubt the iPads and laptops at his future nursery will equip him with IT skills that people of my generation fought to learn in the first years of Secondary school. But these IT skills will, in my opinion, prepare him for a future in an ever-evolving digital world, where his future job will no doubt involve some- if not all- digital input.
Isn’t achieving ‘equality, freedom and autonomy’ easier with these skills and devices? I would dispute Fukuyama’s dystopian ideas with those of a utopian, united future where technology provides access to information, enabling us, and re-asserting who we are- being human is using technology. If we are fortunate to live in a society where such digital delights are available, should we not share them and introduce them to our young? Perhaps many technologies now do go ‘unnoticed’ in our everyday lives, but wouldn’t you let your toddler play on your iPhone if it made them laugh…?
Personally, I see nothing but positive changes ahead in Education as we continue to enhance our teaching and learning with digital devices, and I very much look forward to watching my toddler grow up in our digital utopian world.
Fukuyama, F. (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. London: Harper Collins Publishers