My father recently celebrated his 65th birthday. He’s not one for parties and he already has everything he wants in life. (He’s still holding out for a sports car but I’ll let him take care of that.) So what do you get the man that has everything? I ended up finding a slide rule in an antique store and it seemed to fit. He’s kind of old school.
This slide rule was old as the hills but it still worked. It didn’t need to be plugged in or charged. It’s accomplishments in human history must be astonishing. Bridges erected, wars won, and rockets launched. But then computers came along and as years march on components get smaller and faster. Soon enough the information comes to us. When was the last time you remembered a phone number? All I have to do is tell my phone to ‘call Capri pizza” and I’m a 20 second conversation away from having dinner delivered.
We need to have progress. 100%. But we also need to take a step back and earn what it is we have. Not simply appreciate, but earn. I’m reminded of the Louis C.K. bit where everything is amazing and nobody’s happy. We’ve become so accustom to the world waiting at our fingertips that we can barely remember where it was in the first place. Over the past weekend I made a set of drawers for our linen closet. I could have bought some good looking retractable shelves and had them set up in 20 minutes, but what was I going to gain from that? I had never made drawers before and, dammit, I was taking that opportunity to learn what it took to do it. There’s been a huge resurgence of DIY. Not just refinishing a cute vanity found in a flea market but canning, cheese making, farming, and the like.
Training and education is moving more and more towards an exclusively mobile and digital domain. A teacher friend tells me stories of kids that walk up to tv’s touching the screen expecting to swipe to a different program or a menu. It’s funny the first time but a little scary when you think about where it’s leading us. We are rapidly becoming panda’s, able to consume exclusively bamboo. Canaries that can only live on the eastern side of a specific island.
I’m not saying regress back to the ‘good old days’ of instructor centered learning but to find effective low-tech solutions. We need to implement some level of balance. Remember laserdiscs? Yeah, that could happen to us.
Some low tech solutions can be developed quickly, too. It’s much quicker to throw up a 2 minute, unpolished instructional video onto youtube instead of developing an app. For some reason some people are embarrassed of solutions that lack pizzazz. Pizzazz doesn’t achieve objectives. While we need to pursue and take advantage of new technologies, we shouldn’t lose our connection to fundamental learning techniques. The bleeding edge isn’t stable. Balance is what we need.
Sometimes this balance is found by way of a budget. But as the year progresses we start to ‘spend it so we don’t lose it.’ My problem with that strategy might have more to do with corporate structure and bureaucracy. But I think that’s really what I’m getting at. The bigger the vehicle, the harder it is to turn. Stay nimble! Keep your fundamental muscles warm! So when adversity inevitably finds you, you aren’t crippled with fear and you have ideas that are ready to be put in motion.