By Marietjie Havenga
The world is changing at a rate where it is almost impossible to keep up with the latest developments in technology and science. Movements such as Transhumanism seek to enhance human capabilities by harnessing technology to transcend limitations in human cognition and physiology. Science and technology are used to improve human life expectancy and overall well-being, as well as human intelligence. The Transhumanist movement challenges traditional thinking about being human and poses probing questions about the possibilities available for the future of humanity.
How do we prepare our toddlers for a rapidly changing world that is difficult for us as adults to accept or even comprehend? The change is inevitable, regardless of whether we agree or kick against it. We are entering an unknown future and the way in which we approach the unknown will determine whether we meet the challenges head on.
If we think back to the time before social media, there were great fears and concerns about issues such as privacy, cyberbullying, addiction, the spread of false information, to name just a few. Although many of these fears have come true through incorrect use of the platforms, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, if the user approaches them correctly.
The technology is neutral, but its use can have positive or negative consequences. Here are some essential skills that children must develop, so that they will approach an unknown world correctly and step into it with open eyes. Our children must explore the unknown carefully, but fearlessly. Here are some skills that will empower toddlers to use change in science and technology to their advantage:
- Critical Thinking: A typical question for a two-year-old is “why?”. This phase helps a toddler to investigate and better understand the world around him or her. Allow toddlers to “why?”-ask questions and answer them with honest and logical answers. “Because I say so“ is a typical and common answer that stifles curiosity and stifles critical thinking. Create opportunities where toddlers can think about science through a science table or area in the nursery class where toddlers can make a hypothesis, do experiments, make deductions and conclusions through practical experience. STEM education and activities (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) promote problem-solving skills. Create enough opportunities for toddlers to practically and spontaneously explore and discover these learning areas.
- Ethics and values: In a technological world, it is critical that we maintain humanity by raising our toddlers with empathy and good values. Values such as responsibility and integrity lay a good foundation for the ethical use of new technology.
- Foster a growth mindset: In a rapidly changing world, adaptability is a requirement. In a nursery environment, learning takes place naturally and continuously. Nurture the growth mindset in toddlers, so they become lifelong learners who approach challenges with courage and resilience.
- Encourage a strong imagination and creativity: New possibilities are not a definitive reality. Through a strong imagination, toddlers can see the invisible in their mind’s eye and they begin to think of ideas to make it a possibility. Fantasy play is a wonderful way to transform dreams into a children’s reality. Toddlers imagine that a stick is a magic sword or that a stone block is a table. It promotes creativity in the process to turn the imagination and thoughts into reality.
As educators and parents, we have a responsibility towards our children to lay a strong foundation where critical thinking, ethical values, adaptability, resilience and creativity are part of their everyday life. This will empower them to approach the dynamic world of Transhumanism with the necessary integrity and thinking skills. The ability to be emotionally in touch with oneself and others and to make emotionally intelligent decisions is promoted by soft skills such as resilience, purposefulness and adaptability. When human authenticity is interwoven with technology and science, it is to the benefit of humanity, because it improves communication, creates a wider accessibility to information and knowledge and improves the overall health of man. It does not help us fight the inevitable. Rather, we can embrace it and use it to our advantage.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent of a species that survives. It is the one that adapts most easily to change.” – Charles Darwin
- Marietjie Havenga is the head of Skuilrosie kindergarten and the Solidarity School Support Center’s (SOS) kindergarten association.