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
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
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
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
Contents Page Preface