Last November, the Telegraph reported that England will become the first country in the world to mandate computer programming in primary and secondary schools. This is set to happen this year.
During my college days, I worked on a project encouraging people to pick up a pen and paper, rather than going to their keyboards. This brought up some interesting design questions, which have since evolved. Are we losing our collective creative instinct as a result of new technologies? Or are these advancements opening opportunities for innovation? Is the creative process changing?
Now that I'm working in the design field, I've been able to come back to these questions. Over the Christmas holidays, I travelled home to see my family. On the train, I saw a child no more than four years old playing gleefully for hours on a tablet. This got me thinking. Understanding and being able to control technology has become as essential as knowing how to read and write. But what if understanding and being able to control technology surpassed the need to know how to handwrite? Has design and technology changed the way we live so much that, in 30 years, children will be taught how to use a keyboard and how to code before they learn to write -- if they learn to write at all?
Those in the education sector will no doubt point out that learning to write is part of the process of learning to read, so children would know how to write. There's no guarantee that technology will grow at the rate it has over the past 15-20 years. However, as technology develops, there's every possibility that children will lack the creative skillset beyond handwriting if they are purely fixated on using technology, rather than the more creatively organic pen-and-paper process.
The act of sitting down at a screen to type and think is incredibly restrictive, creatively speaking. The act of your conscience forcing you to act with your hands on the keyboard, compared to the simple act of writing with pen and paper or sketching something, creates physical boundaries. Interacting with a machine automatically limits the creative thought process.
Will future generations therefore lack creativity as technology and design develops, so that we're in a more controlled and creatively limited environment, or are we simply a species that rolls with the times? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Alex Peters is the marketing executive for Parallax, a Leeds, UK, digital agency.