Interaction with learners

Is our creativity stifled by Google search? STEM is the way forward

A college teenager works on building a robot in a technology class. [Getty Images]

Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist of German origin whose genius forever changed our view of space and time, would he have made his discoveries if he was in the age of computers?

Would Isaac Newton wonder why an apple falls and if the moon also falls if he had an account to occupy it on Instagram? Can we be so curious, and therefore also explorers, with social media and other forms of technology constantly occupying our minds?

Does social media hinder a worker’s ability to think and be creative?

Martin Mungai, national trainer and coordinator of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA), said the technology cuts in both directions; it can be constructive just as it can be destructive.

“Technology is an important thing to have because it helps us access worlds we would probably never meet,” he said. “But we also know that it could be misused to cause damage.”

One of the most damaging impacts this would have would be to turn otherwise gifted people into something unimaginative. Workers may find themselves unable to think outside of what the Internet offers them. However, the same Internet could be the panacea for the lack of imagination, creating a world of ideas and guiding people on how to do it.

In the information age, accessing the Internet and using the best search engines to unearth an endless number of results have made people either too informed or too ill informed. But has technology led to a population that can no longer think beyond what the Internet has to offer, or that cannot advance innovation from what our innovators of the past have developed?

“It isn’t,” Mungai says. “Innovations still happen every day. They will continue to happen only that time to make them is now shorter and the options infinitely wider.

As social media spawns content creators and other artistic careers where people easily make money, many academics fear science classes will be shunned and with them creativity and innovation. to lead humanity into a new era.

We fear that the future worker will be average, without capacity for invention; heavily reliant on systems that have been around for a long time.

“We are trying to introduce STEM as a fundamental part of science education, demystifying it and inspiring our learners to create and innovate,” says Mungai.

As such, he reveled in the role of helping teachers develop skills that guide learners to become critical thinkers. CEMASTEA has developed programs that help teachers develop a kind of thinking that allows them to create innovators out of their students. They ensure that students have a deep and solid understanding of the theory and its practical application.

And Internet technology is a big part of that.

“Internet technology offers platforms that help people see what is going on around them. Only then will they know where to focus their energies, ”he says.

Workers have had it easier with technology, but does it reduce their creativity? Does resorting to formulas seemingly set in stone, with dangerously precise computers, eliminate the need for workers to think outside the box?

Shadrack Kirunga, who is deputy registrar at Kenya Multimedia University, says the world is approaching an era in which many countries will be technology-based economies.

Will the arrival of artificial intelligence and robotics make workers more creative?

There is a problem, often caused by a cultural mismatch. “Culture has physical and non-physical elements that must develop together to avoid a lag. This mismatch occurs because the technology has developed much faster than the ability to create the rules that manage it, ”he says.

Take the example of someone sitting in their rural Kenyan home and logging into Facebook to access information posted by a user in Atlanta, Georgia. The user in Kenya could launch a verbal attack on a complete stranger, which Kirunga says occurs because we lack commonly accepted rules that could be used to punish such a person here as they would be in the United States.

He also says that while it helps create innovations in many ways, technology has stifled creativity in others.

“In the village, children who do not have access to electronic devices and the Internet still go outside to play, make and break toys, mold objects in clay and gain a sense of autonomy,” he says. These are the kids who went to better workplaces by inventing systems and machines and improving others.

In addition, the interaction between people, which he says makes us better people, has been affected.

“We now have a digital identity challenge versus real identity. Are you communicating with a human or is it a bot? Is he a young man or an old man? Because technology has made it possible to create a false identity that can be processed without being discovered, ”he says.

Just recently in Spain, a famous female author, before a shocking faceless award meeting, turned out to be actually three men.

At an event to award the country’s prestigious Planeta Literary Prize, famous but lonely novelist Carmen Mola was actually revealed to be the creation of three male writers, NPR reported.

Antonio Mercero, Agustín Martínez and Jorge Díaz have created a series of blockbuster novels in the name of Mola. It was the technology that helped people completely conceal their identities and get away with it.

There is also an argument that society is now raising emotionally and physically weaker children who are not able to fight as hard to make discoveries and survive adaptation unlike their ancestors.

It is argued that some of these people give in under minimal pressure in the workplace, unable to take on the small challenges that their ancestors gracefully took up.

“We have long had patriarchal societies in which boys are not supposed to show signs of weakness, any manifestation of emotion being considered weakness. Stifling these emotions is actually a weakness, ”explains Mungai.

Other arguments that abound tend to dismiss the idea of ​​constantly rewarding children, with one of the preschool and lower elementary school graduates wearing fake graduation gowns.

“For me, it’s a way to motivate them. It’s positive reinforcement. We do them good and maybe they want to work hard because now they want to get there and wear the real dress, ”says Kirunga.

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