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In a Robotics Club meeting, Upper School teacher Mr. Javier Saavedra discusses the latest project, constructing "Sumobots," with club members. Upper School Student TJ Johannesen (pictured, third from the right) built a "Sumobot" from scratch to participate in a "Sumobot battle."
About 20 or 30 years ago, robotics and programming were disciplines only accessible to that niche field of “techies” pursuing careers in information technology or rocket science. Nowadays, these once selective and specialized practices permeate the whole working world. Increasingly sophisticated robots run on increasingly sophisticated code to build our products, run our algorithms, and even save our lives.
In such a competitive and technologically driven world, we must enable our students to not only to utilize the tools of today, but also to build problem-solving and engineering skills that will make accessible to them all the technologies of the future. By teaching critical thinking and diagnostic thought processes rather than specific skills, teachers hope to equip their students to compete in such a dynamic work environment.
According to Second Baptist School robotics teacher Javier Saavedra, work ethic, passion and the “ability to work with the tools available” are some of the most important skills we can teach kids for the future. Computer science and programming teacher Randy Beard adds that “the earlier [students] can develop critical thinking, the better”.
But teaching technology is about much more than a change in focus - it’s a call for a change in thinking. Technology is a field that is rife with opportunities, but it takes foresight to achieve success. Saavedra and Beard both stress the importance of teaching the concept of “delayed gratification” to students.
“We are living in an instant society,” said Saavedra, “That’s a problem.” Students need to be prepared to learn the fundamentals before moving on to more challenging and enticing projects. Progress, especially in technology-related fields, is often slow at the beginning and difficult to measure. But the benefits remain innumerable.
At the heart of all teachers, there is the will and hope to teach students skills that will prepare them for the future. In such a constantly developing world, it becomes increasingly important to teach skills that go beyond basic knowledge and instill passion, resilience, and perseverance in students. Because, in the end, it is the craftsman, not the tool, that wins the day.