Empowered Youth

Change culture. That’s what it’s all about. In her article, “Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture“, Raquel Recuero writes, “According to Ludemir, [a writer and producer,] the ‘small steps’ craze is an example of how youth can be protagonists in creating and changing culture.” The key catalyst: the Internet. These impoverished dancers in the city of Rio are changing their culture by creating it, and they’ve got the attention of the world because of YouTube. To take their Dance Dance Revolution to the next level, professionals such as Ludemire invest their expertise in this movement.

What if the originators of the ideas need to produce and promote their own work on the Internet? Brennan, et. al point out in their article, “Making projects, making friends“, that, “It is sometimes expected that because they have always been surrounded by interactive media, young people have inherent understandings and use these artifacts and technolo-gies effortlessly.” Wrong. We cannot with any accuracy make this assumption.

Scratch, created by the MIT Media Lab, is an example of how to instill digital natives with the tools they need to create their own interactive media. Programming is vastly useful skill, but few people who are not techies know languages such as C++, Java, or iOS. Scratch introduces learners to the logic and problem-solving of programming. Actual coding can be learned as the student grows older. The main point is that Scratch gives them a head start, gives them a taste, a foundation on which to drive future learning. Programming is difficult, intimidating work to non-technical individuals. Yet, the skill is nonetheless relevant to the modern era of creation.

3 thoughts on “Empowered Youth

  1. Hannah Inzko

    What I read from the first part of this article was that we can’t assume that young people have an inherent capacity for media creation . Which is why it is so important that we are creating opportunities for them to engage with this type of activity. I think it is so incredibly important to teach students different forms of collaboration and participation, specifically as it applies to online communities. These are skills that will follow them and continue to be relevant throughout their lives.

  2. Karen Yarbrough

    Thanks for pointing out that youth don’t inherently have some kind of magical technical knowledge. People make that assumption, and it’s just silly. If we were, just by virtue of our generational group, able to have universal expertise in a new idea, then I should probably know a lot more than I do about pagers and mini-disk players…

  3. Phil

    Programming is difficult, intimidating work to non-technical individuals. Indeed it is, and so what makes Scratch so great, as you suggest in your post, is that it removes this aura of intimidation early on because the young kids working with it don’t need to learn the code at this early stage. In Scratch, it’s concepts before code. Once they get the basic concepts of programming, then ideally it’s less intimidating when they get older and have an opportunity to work on programming projects that allow them to work at the code-level.

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