Originally, this was intended to be a contribution on the question of whether programming must be an integral part of school education or whether digital literacy can do without it. In between, I slept over it, had discussions, slept over it again, read about it and finally came up with ideas, what learning for the future – without claiming to be complete – must contain.

I keep on following discussions in which it is pointed out that digital education is the be-all and end-all for our future. It is often pointed out that learning a programming language is essential for understanding the digital life. I do not entirely agree with that statement. It is quite true that in the future we will need more and more people who bring extensive knowledge in the MINT subjects. And computer science is current and in the near future will certainly be the science that will be most relevant to jobs. However, it is at least as important that factual communication is conveyed.

Why factual communication

There will always be people who are confronted with an almost insurmountable obstacle when they have to think logically and abstractly. They have other strengths, which are more likely to be found in the area of empathy. However, the „technicians“ have to take exactly this group with them. They can only do so if there is a lively, open and factual exchange. Frustration and defensive attitudes for a technically oriented future can only be avoided if they all feel understood and taken away. The fear of doing something wrong is largely eliminated by these products. Guess why an iPhone or iPad is so popular with non-Tekkies.

The model of the two hemispheres of the brain

Originally described by the model of two halves of the brain, people have different strengths and weaknesses. Left brain is logical, abstract and analytical, and right brain dominant pictorial, emotional and creative. The abilities of each person are different. And even if this model of the clear separation between right and left is disproved, this pattern of rational and emotional people continues to apply. The better the networking, the better the mental performance.

Which side of your brain is more dominant? Here’s a test: http://braintest.sommer-sommer.com/en/

What should digital competence really be about?

Digital devices and media will be tools in daily use in the future, and already today. It is not only a question of using digital media, but also of using them in a meaningful way and of understanding digital devices not only as gaming machines.

It starts with the fact that although Google does exist, many people are not able to generate meaningful and reliable results from their search queries. And certainly not in a reasonable time. Especially since alternatives to Google are often unknown. In this case, digital literacy is not a technical problem, as it is all about language competence, because the question arises: „Which terms help me to find the best possible result?“ That there are possibilities to refine the search by operators is nice. But quite honestly, there is also the advanced search.

(Digital) communication

Digital education must also enable people to communicate appropriately and respectfully. The demands in social networks to get in touch with others are different than when we face each other directly. It also means being able to deal with so-called „Hatespeech“, so that it comes to nothing. For this can only become powerful if it is swayed by ignorance. Sometimes it is only created because someone is unaware of what his or her message does in social media. People must learn how to deal with digital media in a meaningful and appropriate way.

Often it is also the logics who quickly become gruff if they are not understood, which is often intensified by less resources of empathy. This characteristic is in turn rather a strength of the „others“, who now feel more like they have stepped on their toes.

Requirements for solutions

Computers, tablets or smartphones are like Swiss Army Knives. You can do many tasks, but we need to know what requirements a task places on us and how we can evaluate them in order to determine which tools will best support us in solving the task at hand. We don’t need to understand how an app works. It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help either. Who still knows how a car, a television or simple things like a stove or refrigerator work these days? Certainly few. And yet we can serve them. The requirement for devices and software is that they can be operated by anyone who wants to use them.

Developing solutions

Of course, more and more people are also being sought who have the ability to develop and implement new products. It is not enough to have only programmers who convert their ideas into software. Ideas and visions are not necessarily learnable. However, these need to implement it’s most diverse skills, which can rarely be covered by one person. It is important to form teams that incorporate their personal strengths into the results.

Satisfaction and achievement

The best life is led by the one who achieves the greatest satisfaction or even happiness with what he is and does. Those who can bring their skills to bear will be much more satisfied with what they do. Do not ask a politician, top manager or musician to develop software or analyze operational evaluations. Likewise, a programmer, accountant or controller will get stomach ache if they write a speech and at best have to do it. If we make programming a graded duty, it is roughly the same as if we were to reintroduce vocal notes. As long as projects like Calliope mini are used as a playful introduction for primary school students, we can certainly attract new „prospective customers“ for the MINT area.

Of course, thinking does not only take place on one side of the brain. It’s about dominance. Successful team building is based on these insights.

A mind game

Until now, it has often been the case that logic is often done by solving equations with many unknowns or by creating formulas that hardly anyone needs in real life. Let’s set the task differently. A small app is developed in groups, which makes this possible. There will be students who are eager to develop the mathematical solution. Other students will find their contribution more likely in the design and layout of an appealing interface and user guidance. Such a thing does not have to be limited to mathematics. It can also be an app for history, languages, etc.

Everyone in the group will be able to take something with them and discover their own strengths and weaknesses. And even with a result that comes close to that of real life. In dealing with the tools that accompany them in their future lives. In the course of this, we learn how these tools work and develop logical connections. The team with its different strengths makes the success.

This little mind game shows many of the necessary skills. Learning will be multi-dimensional and I think that it can work this way across different age groups. Moreover, this idea is not so new and Finland has redesigned its school model with the school year 2016/17 for similar reasons. Here, too, the question has been asked: „What skills do I need in the (near) future?“

Conclusion

Digital competences must be promoted. Not only in school, but as far as we can judge at the moment, for life. What is today’s specialist knowledge becomes general knowledge in just a few years. If you don’t start now, you will lose the connection for a long time. Weaknesses need to be strengthened, but it must not end in the fact that every human being is made a programmer, because this leads to frustration and dislike and therefore no solution becomes beneficial.

New products are technically based, but must be designed in such a way that even those who are not born with logical-analytical thinking understand how they work. Certainly some of them will be involved in the design and probably even those who bring the most successful digital solutions to market, since visionaries are mostly right brain dominant. Economy and ecology are also topics without which we do not need digitalization.

We need an education that prioritizes teamwork and modern technologies to create high value-added solutions for humanity. This cannot happen without the mediation of values.

And what’s more, curiosity, curiosity and curiosity are fostered. Because it is she who keeps our motivation for learning alive.

Photo credits

Brad Flickinger / flickr.com (CC by 2.0)

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