Today I am pleased to share a wonderful blog post by children’s author Robbie Cheadle. In this increasingly interconnected world it can be difficult for parents to explain to their children why basic math and writing skills are important. I know I am shocked by how much my six-year-old already knows about iPads, Kindle readers and desktops. Why should he bother to learn to write neatly if everything is sent via computer anyway? Robbie has an eloquent answer for us all!
Why read the book if you can watch the movie?
We live in a world of technology. Television, movies, computers, laptops, iphones, ipads and even ipods. Nothing in my children’s lives is as it was when I was growing up. Everything is fast and instant. My oldest son started high school this year. I hear about the exciting and innovative learning topics and methods he is enjoying and I feel quite envious of his learning experience. Information and research is at his fingertips at the click of a Google button. Not for him, riding his bicycle to the library and searching through a pile of books for information on a given topic and then standing in a queue to photocopy pages from said books to take home and work on. Homework assignments are made available to learners in a virtual classroom and are completed on-line and resubmitted to the teacher electronically. If he forgets a book at school, never fear, technology is here. He will reach out to his contemporaries on the school Whats App group and, very soon, someone will send through the forgotten material in a digital form. If an unexpected soccer match crops up, my son merely reaches for his iphone and sends me a text informing me of the change of plan and the updated collection time. I shudder as I think back to my time of standing in a long queue to use the one and only payphone at the school to convey any such changes to my mother. Most of the time I would have to try and reverse the changes of the call as I rarely had any money.
As for entertainment, this is now all electronic as well. Both of my sons while away their spare time playing complicated games on a computer. My oldest son is a very serious “gamer”. He has a gaming mouse and a huge television size computer monitor. He plays in a “cloud” with other gamers from all over the world including India and the US. He has been very well trained on the hazards of disclosing any person information on line and is not allowed to have a Facebook page although he does have Instagram.
All this technology results in a plethora of questions from my children such as what is the benefit to them of learning how to write properly are if they are going to spend their lives typing on a laptop, why do they need to learn how to spell when they will use spell check and grammar checks on their computers in the future and why should they have to read classic books when they can watch the movies.
Why indeed? What are the benefits of learning how to do these things yourself rather than relying on a virtual helper for assistance? Why is it important to read the book in addition to watching the movies?
My reply to my children is that everything in this world still starts with people. People write the programmes that provide the computers with their instructions. The instructions to the computer need to be clear and concise as what you put in is what you get out. Correct spelling, punctuation and the ability to be very precise in conveying meaning are vital skills for computer programmers.
People write the screenplays that underlie the movies. The quality of a movie depends largely on the ability of the scriptwriter to interpret the contents of a good book and adapt them into a format more suitable for a movie. This process does result in a lot description and insights included in the book being lost in the movie. Even the best of movies very rarely provide for the expression of thoughts by the characters and the descriptions are limited to the senses of sight and hearing mainly. Descriptive passages and depictions in books can often give a great deal more disclosure around the emotions, feelings and thoughts of the various characters as well as more insight in the other three sense of smell, touch and taste. The written word allows the reader to use their own imagination to create the scenes in their own mind’s eye. My children were hard to convince that without writers, there would be no movies. It is rather a strange thing that they seem to think that a movie is put together without any involvement of the written word. Screenplays also do include punctuation. Imagine watching a movie which does not include any variation in the pitch and tone of the actors voices and which does not allow for dramatic pauses, questions and exclamations. Not much fun in my opinion. I ask them if they would like to spend the rest of their lives watching reality television. That would be the world if there were no writers.
Most importantly of all, imagination and the ability to be creative and make leaps of logic are vital to innovation and inventiveness. These are two of the most important qualities for learners to develop if they want to compete for jobs in the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution that is expected to characterise the world of the future. The fourth industrial revolution is building on the digital revolution, or third industrial revolution, that has been occurring since the 1950’s and is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres with developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology.
In summary, it is the ability of humans to create and innovate that differentiates us from the other creatures that inhabit the animal kingdom and these are frequently expressed in our abilities to write books and create art and music. The Sir Chocolate series of books that I have written with my son, Michael, and my new book, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, are aimed at promoting these qualities in the readers of our books. These books are designed to encourage caregivers to bake and undertake artistic activities with children while engaging them in stories that stimulate the imagination.
About Authors Robbie and Michael Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, will be available in early July 2017.
Silly Willy goes to Cape Town
When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy. Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?
Also by Robbie and Michael Cheadle:
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream berries story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate land where you can eat absolutely everything. Join them on a fantastic adventure to find the amazing strawberry cream berry and learn how to make some of their scrumptious recipes at the same time.
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet find a lost baby cookie monster. Join them on an adventure to return the baby to its mother and learn how to make some of their delicious recipes at the same time.
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
A greedy snail damages the flower fields and the fondant bees are in danger of starving. Join Sir Chocolate on an adventure to find the fruit drop fairies who have magic healing powers and discover how to make some of his favourite foods on the way.