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José Benigno Freire, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

Index" generation

Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:37:00 +0000 Published in Las and El diario montañés

I will refer to a common observation: a person picks up a cell phone with one hand and with the index finger of the other hand writes letter by letter, slowly and cautiously. It usually happens among people in their sixties and upwards. I baptized them as the "index generation". They are far from typing fast with their thumbs, or without lifting their finger from the keyboard, or surfing social networks with intrepidity... Although it may seem like a small gesture, it represents a significant detail; a symptom...

It reveals that the "index" uses technologies exclusively at the level of Username; sometimes clumsily. They know how to do things, but they do not know what they are doing; that is why at the slightest complication or problem they are left without resources, blocked, bewildered. We went through a similar status , years ago, with the changeover from the peseta to the euro. We are already fluent in the handling of coins and banknotes; however, some people, even today, still need to transfer the price to pesetas to get some idea of the value of things. They count in euros, but they do not think in euros, they do not know how to operate with euros!

Something similar happens with the level of Username. They take advantage of the countless advantages of technology to perform on a daily basis, but they ignore, or misuse, its substantial usefulness: the operability and flexibility they provide to thought to venture a prodigious civilization... I will try to explain myself a little better:  

Generally, the original propositions of thought, in order to translate them into the internship, require instrumental resources yet to be discovered. Einstein argued thus. "The world we have fabricated as result from the level of thought we have used so far creates problems that we cannot solve with the same level of thought in which we created it". And herein lies the essential contribution of modern technology: to facilitate unexpected and surprising tools to project voracious and insatiable progress... Fascinating! Innovative skills and models are needed for thinking to unfold its unlimited potential, because acting with the old schemes slows down or cancels out new transforming solutions to the unknown challenges of the vertiginous scientific and technical progress. A boiling technology that leaves us overwhelmed...: such is the acceleration of progress that it (almost) exhausts our capacity for astonishment. In Leonardo da Vinci we find a paradigmatic example of what I am trying to express: his brilliant intuitions, his masterly sketches, could not be executed due to lack of technical resources...

That said, the "index" (not all!) should step aside so as not to hinder or slow down the professional niches with the greatest hope of innovation. But that would not justify that the younger generations look at them with a certain disdain. On the contrary, they deserve a respectful thank you: the creativity and work of their parents and grandparents laid the solid instructions for the prodigious world they enjoy... Much is owed to them!

I refresh some data. The first programmable computer was designed by Konrad Zuse (1936/1941). From 1947 to 1951 different paternities of the transistor were known, the chip in 1958: indispensable for cost and size reduction. Easy and user-friendly operation with a graphical interface came onto the market in 1973 (Xerox) and became popular in 1983 (Apple). And the great "gurus" of the Internet: Bill Gates, 1955; Paul Allen, 1963; Steve Jobs, 1955; Stephen Wozniak, 1950... They were not born in the time of the "digital natives"! The "index generation" started a development that even they were not able to imagine...

And, moreover, it was a tiring task. They built the pillars to establish a welfare society from the rubble of the Second World War: with endless labor conference , scarcely remunerated, emigrating, almost without rights and vacations... and great saving capacity by reducing expenses to the minimum. How they endured this hard status? with illusion! The illusion of rebuilding a country, forging a family patrimony and, mainly, the determination to leave their children a better world... Dreaming of something or someone ignites the potentialities dormant in the comfort zone of the self.

However, that same enthusiasm led them to make a big pedagogical mistake: to prioritize in Education the fact that their children would enjoy the wellbeing that they lacked. Thus, they focused too much on material things, and neglected to transmit what really fulfilled them and filled their existence: to live for and with an illusion. They still have time to correct this mistake: by enthusing their children and grandchildren, with tenderness and smiling nostalgia, to seek those values that satisfy more deeply than the (legitimate) comforts of the quality of life.

In conclusion, for the "index generation" it is good to move away, but not to leave, according to the saying of a very well-known Galician...