Be warned: this post may sound slightly complacent, mildly pessimistic, and altogether like a bit of a rant on the current state of our society in America. But – hey – isn’t that why I started my own blog? To allow myself an avenue to opine on real issues facing ourselves and the next generation of people to roam this great Earth? I run the show around here; the choice is yours if you want to read it.
In short, I am wildly concerned about the state of technology awareness and technical intelligence in our American society. And, no, I don’t mean the ability to use an iPhone or knowing how to start a group message on Facebook. Because, last time I checked, there are only extremely narrow windows of opportunity to capitalize on those skills. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook is already published, sorry.
What I’m talking about is our country’s seeming indifference towards teaching children the value of technical skills. For instance, I firmly believe that everyone in their lives should be required to take at least one course on coding and engineering in their academic careers. Not because I think we’re severely lacking coders in America (side note – we most definitely are), but because learning to code teaches someone several valuable skills that ultimately leave oneself better off and more marketable in their career. Before you say it, it’s true, not everything draws back to your career; but I think we have started to undervalue people’s ability to provide for themselves and earn a decent living (maybe that’s the Midwestern blue collar seeping out of me). I am not going to use this post or this site to go into any economic lessons or discuss the value of money and whether or not it buys happiness – but rather I do want to speak for a brief moment on the value of technology awareness and skills in 2013.
So why should everyone learn to code or start to brush up a bit on technology and spend more time in the Engineering building at school? Simple:
- Coding, at it’s quintessence, teaches people to be problem solvers: Whether it’s the process of debugging some “cranky code”, or following a process to create something as simple as “Hello World”, coding forces you to work through problems and setbacks. Be it through consulting electronic/external sources (e.g. Google) or friends/experts – you will have to figure out a way to get past roadblocks. This is a skill that I think we can all agree is highly valuable whatever your walk of life may be.
- Technology is the wave of the future. Everything is going mobile. We are all strapped to our devices as is. Why shouldn’t we embrace that and start to learn more about it? It’s our only chance to remain viable in a global marketplace. And, as Americans, don’t we generally like to win?
- Engineering is all about how things are built. It’s about process. Starting with a rough concept, investigating feasibility based upon organic, material, or dynamic qualities, developing a design, prototyping a design, testing it, and eventually finalizing a buildout… These skills are not only useful in buildings/bridges/cars/planes, but rather in your traditional life as well. Think about the ability to build a relationship and take in/analyze information that is given to you to further enhance that relationship. It’s all an exercise in engineering.
- Technology and Engineering are what drives innovation and are uniquely responsible for most of the great inventions since the start of time. Be it the automobile, the airplane, or the telephone – behind most of those great inventions was someone hopelessly dedicated to science and engineering. And who doesn’t love cool new toys?
I could go on all day, I really could. But I won’t. I hope you get the picture. And even if you don’t agree, I just ask that you consider the risk if we refuse to refocus our energy towards technology, engineering, math, the sciences. I am incredibly alarmed at American society’s refusal to take these areas more seriously. I love the arts – I really do! I think having a portion of our population dedicate their time and energy towards creating wonderful works or art, literature, or performances for the rest of us to enjoy is a fantastic thing. I would be lying though if I didn’t say I am worried that we have overcorrected in these areas over the past couple of decades. In my personal opinion, spending six figures on a French Art History degree for most people just may not pay off. Ever notice that in other developing countries (e.g. majority of Asia), the percentage of graduates with technical/skills training versus other language arts is substantially higher than here in the U.S.? Wait, where are all of our technology jobs in America being lost or offshored to again?
Listen, I know it’s not all about what “pays off” from a financial perspective. But at the end of the day, money makes the world go ’round. You need it to eat, need it to sleep (comfortably), need it to get around. So give technology a chance. I think you’ll be amazed at what we are collectively able to create and how quickly we can innovate if we start to drive more of our talented youth (and even aging professionals – you’d be surprised at what great resources are available for out-of-school or on-the-job skills training!) towards technology, engineering, math, and science.
Til Next Time,