The iPod generation of kids and teens are by far the most tech savvy thus far.
During my teenage, through the mid-eighties in India, we hardly had access to computers. I took a computer class in 1987, at which the instructor used to give us “demos” on a real machine about once a week, and we never actually programmed on a PC. Instead, we wrote algorithms and pseudocode, and were tested on the logic of our programs.
During my recent India trip, we visited a village school that my great-great-grand-father had established in our ancestral village in Rajarhat, near Calcutta, where he grew up. The head-master took us around and explained that they have 10 computers, and students from 8th grade on learn data-structures, algorithms, AND they actually write programs in C. I was both impressed and fascinated by how far into the fabric of India – IT has made its way. In this case, the vehicle for this accomplishment is an educational outreach program from IBM.
In the US, of course, we have an Affluenza generation growing up on computers from the age of 3 or 4.
It is, therefore, somewhat disheartening to read this post by Laura Tiffany, on the career preferences of today’s teens:
“The teens surveyed believe that innovation will take care of such issues as clean water (91 percent), world hunger (89 percent), disease (88 percent), pollution reduction (89 percent) and energy conservation (82 percent). They also believe gasoline and CDs are on their way out; 33 percent think gas-powered cars will be gone by 2015 and CDs will be just a memory within 10 years. But when asked about their future career choices, science, business and engineering weren’t at the top of the list. Those honors went to arts and medicine (17 percent each); health-care/medicine careers were more attractive to girls than boys (25 percent vs. 9 percent). Engineering did come in third overall at 14 percent, with a similarly wide difference between boys and girls (24 and 4 percent, respectively).”
Well, the numbers are very different in India and China. Is the US, then, leaving it up to the Asians to do the inventing and innovating?