Chapter 2 - Why not the best?

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Why not the best?


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2. Learn computers and the Internet

   We do not place much emphasis on the need to learn too many specific trade skills too early in life. But computers and the Internet are to the 21st century what telephones have been to the 20th: but much, much more.
   As Apple Fellow and visionary Alan Kay once put it: "Technology is only 'technology' for people who were born before it was invented."
7 And, according to the pioneer of learning and technology Seymour Papert, "that's why we don't argue about whether the piano is corrupting music with technology".8
  No one could survive in a modern economy without being able to use a telephone. So everyone should become computer-smart and Internet-smart too.

3. Dramatic improvement needed in parent-education

   Most brain researchers are convinced that 50 percent of a person's ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life.9 Not 50 percent of one's knowledge, nor 50 percent of one's wisdom. But in those early years the infant brain makes around 50 percent of the main brain-cell connections - the pathways on which all future learning will be based.
  If this is true, then home, not school, is the most important educational institution in the land. And parents, not teachers, are the main first educators. Yet even in many advanced countries, fewer than 50 percent of mothers-to-be - and a much lower percentage of fathers - attend any form of pre-birth classes. And even those are often restricted to lessons about birth itself. There is an almost total lack of education for parenthood: no training in such areas as the diet necessary for brain growth, or the best types of stimulation required by young learners.
  If the present authors had to pick any priority for targeted education, and especially for educational TV, it would be parent education.

4. Early childhood health service priorities

If the first few years are vital for learning, the nine months before birth and the first five years of life are probably the most important for health. Good diet and sound nutrition are essential for learning, and so are regular health checkups.
  For example, even in an advanced society such as New Zealand, up to 20 percent of infants suffer from ear infection.
10 If undetected and

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