Through this essay I explore an idea that would re-imagine the passing of knowledge between elderly and children.
The Internet has become a powerful channel of communication in our society, but only for those who can learn how to use the new medium. It would be surprising if someone from my age group did not know how to use a computer for basic web applications, but if we take a look at the older generation, we take their “digital illiteracy” for granted. One question might be how to help these people adapt to new technologies, but instead I would rather look for a methodology that solves this issue from its roots. Let’s consider the following questions: When my generation grows old, will we become confused with new modern technology? Will we learn how to easily adapt to new changes? Or will future technology be so intuitive that we can easily integrate it into our lives?
I propose to design a methodology for learning consumer technology that would suit elderly people today and that would evolve with modern technology so that, by the time our younger generations grow old, adapting will be highly intuitive.
One key challenge lies in the fact that elderly people are less likely to be open to new events and relationships. We all know the stereotype that blocking and refusing new opportunities is what makes someone old. I believe a successful methodology can overcome this problem by implementing active participation between the older and younger generations. For example, through online lessons, while the child learns how to read aloud with the help of grandmother, the grandmother learns how to use the program.
Additionally, a methodology would embrace the value of the knowledge that the elderly carry. I remember how my grandfather used to come over to my place after my middle-school classes and help me with my home work by teaching me counting and writing. He even brought me his handmade cards that we would play with - and through which I learn the lesson. I find it beautiful how grandparents impart knowledge to the younger generation, rolling the circle of life, and I would like to emphasize the importance of preserving tradition and knowledge of the elderly.
I believe that the replication of knowledge is just as important as the replication of genes in a successful, complete life. At this time in history, the replication of knowledge of the elder generation is woefully lacking. Just as we can help to integrate the elderly into using modern technology, we can reestablish the flow of knowledge from generation to generation.